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Hall of Fame Night

Written by Don Reid. Posted in General

We have received so many congratulations from so many good friends from around the globe in the recent days and most have asked about the Medallion Ceremony Sunday night in Nashville and exactly what took place.  I’ll try to recapture it as closely as possible although it felt like a dream sequence even as it was happening.

Tom T. was the first to be inducted for the evening.  It’s customary that four songs of note are sung by four different artists either of your choice or the choice of your organization if you want to be surprised.  Michelle Nixon, Heather Berry and Tony Mabe, and Bobby Bare each sang a song Tom had written and then he closed his portion singing his own, Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine. Ralph Emery, a close friend and fellow Hall of Famer (you have to be in the Hall in order to perform this duty) put the medallion around his neck and then Tom spoke and offered some stories and thanks to all the proper people.

His half of the show.

Next came the Statler half.  Interspersed in the reading of the history of our lives and the group, three of our songs were sung.  Reba McEntire, bless her heart, came as a surprise and sang Flowers on the Wall to us.  Energetic and electric – topped only by the personal comments she made on the years she toured with us as our opening act.  What a sweet lady and good friend!

Daily and Vincent, a new Bluegrass group and the best I’ve ever heard, were next with their version of Do You Know You Are My Sunshine? These guys shine and sparkle and I’m going to see them in concert in a couple of weeks.  I hope you do, too, if they are anywhere close.  Super guys!

Next came the heart tugs for us.  Grandstaff – Harold’s and my sons – Wil and Langdon, performed their brand new, self-penned record simply called The Statler Brothers Song. It’s a salute to us using song titles from our career with some tear-jerking sentiments for four old guys sitting there on the front row trying to hide our emotions.  Pretty soon we just quit trying.  This song is on their new CD Live And Well.  I don’t tell you this so you’ll buy it, but I tell you this because I’d love for you to hear it.  These guys are very special to us as are all our kids.  And speaking of our kids.  They were all there except for one.  20 out of 21 and that’s what made the night really special for us.  Of course, I say kids, but they’re adults now with kids of their own.  The Balsley kids were there – the Fortune kids- the DeWitt kids – and both branches of the Reid kids.  God bless them all.

Then our good friend Brenda Lee, who had also toured extensively with us,  came forward and placed the medallions around each of our necks and we each gave our acceptance speeches.  The audience was full of old friends from the industry who came to see us inducted.  Earl Scruggs, Little Jimmy Dickens, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Sonny James, Emmy Lou Harris, The Jordanaires, Jerry Kennedy, Marshall Grant and so many, many more.

Oh yeah, that left us one song short.  We didn’t tell many people in advance, but for the first time in six (6) years of retirement, we sang I’ll Go To My Grave Loving You as the closing song.  There was magic in the air from the time it all began until and final note was sung and the final tear was dropped.  Our plaque was unveiled revealing the image of all five Statlers – Harold, Phil, Lew, Jimmy and Don.  It was our choice that all five of us be represented as it was all five of us who did whatever it was we did in order to hang in that Hall.

What a night and what a range of emotions and memories it all conjured up.  As we walked the red carpet and did all the interviews along the way, one anonymous arm that stuck a microphone in my face asked a strange and poignant question.  It said, “What do you think Johnny Cash would say if he were here tonight?”  And my answer was as honest and from the heart as I could possibly be.  I said, “I think he would be less surprised than I am because he saw something in us so very early on, before anyone else did, and I think he would say, ‘I knew it that first day in Canton, Ohio back in 1964.  That’s why I hired you’.”

And John I’m sure glad you did.  Wish you were here.  Kiss June goodnight for us.

Don Reid – July 2, 2008


Going into the Hall

Written by Don Reid. Posted in General

What’s On My Mind right now is the upcoming Country Music Hall of Fame induction of the Statler Brothers.  This will happen in Nashville on Sunday night June 29th of this year.  And what this means to my ‘brothers’ Harold, Phil, Jimmy, Lew and myself is not something I’ll probably be able to capture in this writing.  My concern is whether I’ll even be able to express it at the official ceremony.  I’ll give it a try both places but feel confident only in that I’ll fall short both times.

We got the call back in January.  I was standing in my kitchen at the time and had to sit down rather heavily as my knees refused to accept the news any better than my heart did.  Only difference was my heart was racing and my knees were unable to.

Never had we allowed ourselves to even think about the possibilities of residing in the Hall one day.  Others had mentioned it to us and expressed kindly that we should already be in there but then that’s the kind of things people say to you who love you.  I never took it seriously.  But then the day came when we had to trek to Nashville for the public announcement to the world.  This little press event began early in the morning of February 12 in the enormous hall where all the plaques of all the Hall of Fame members are displayed.  What a sight!

As I walked around looking at and reading each plaque with a cup of coffee in my hand (I had oddly never been there before), I got reacquainted with some old friends and some old heroes.  There against the west wall was Tex Ritter and his history.  One of our first and dearest friends in this business.  Then Roy and Gene.  And, of course, Johnny Cash (the reason we were ever in this business).  June and Mother Maybelle.  Eddy Arnold.  Even good friends who had been contemporaries of ours such as Sonny James and Bill Anderson and Brenda Lee.  And then an executive came up quietly behind me and said, “And over here, Don, is where your plaque will hang.”

“And that’s when I woke up,” to quote a punch line from Tex’s “Hillbilly Heaven”.  I woke up and felt the chills running across my back.  This is the place where our heroes live and now we’ll live here with them.  The reality had finally hit me.  We really were going into the Hall of Fame.

People have asked for years which of our awards have meant the most and I’ve always been very diplomatic with my answer.  But now I think I can be brazenly honest. I’m really looking forward to this one.  On the 29th of June they’ll hang a medallion around each of our necks and make it official.  We’ll say our insufficient thank yous, the people will applaud politely and then we’ll all adjourn.  But we all won’t go home.  A little piece of us will stay there in that sacred Hall forever and ever with Tex and John and June.  And who knows, when it gets quiet and dark in there late one night we might all do a song together again.


May 29, 2008