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Country Music Hall of Fame Adds Cowboy Jack Clement, Bobby Bare, and Kenny Rogers

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Every year, when I hear who’s just been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, I was always wonder, “Well, who’s in there now?” And that’s because there’s always a brand new inductee who I’m surprised isn’t already there.

Case in point: Kenny Rogers and Bobby Bare. Certainly I congratulate these two legends, but I have to admit to being a little shocked that they’re just now being enshrined.

Of course, I also congratulate Cowboy Jack Clement, a man with whom, I confess, I’m not familiar. But he’s a pioneer, more of a behind-the-scenes guy who produced and engineered at Sun Records in Memphis and was instrumental in the creation of recordings of legends like Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley.

He’s responsible for the signature mariachi horns you hear on Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” Though he’s the least recognizable of the three, based on his legacy, I’d imagine his exhibit in the Hall will be something special.

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Bobby Bare, who celebrated his 78th birthday on Sunday, scored 13 top ten hits during his career and put 70 singles on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart from 1962 through 1986. His classic “500 Miles Away from Home” not only was a top five country hit but a top ten pop hit as well.

And when it comes to country music, Halloween wouldn’t be complete without Bare’s Shel Silverstein/Baxter Taylor ode to voodoo practitioner “Marie Laveau”–oddly enough, his only #1 song.

Kenny Rogers is one of country AND pop music’s all-time biggest stars. I recently purchased a book by Joel Whitburn entitled Hot Country Songs: 1944-2012. It lists–alphabetically by artist–every song to ever make an appearance on Billboard’s country chart up to January of 2013.

According to Whitburn–on his list of the top 300 artists of all time according to that chart–Kenny Rogers comes in at #30. Again, that’s counting every artist to chart over a 69-year span. Very impressive.

But hardly surprising.

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We all know there was a time, whether you were listening to pop or country, that you couldn’t go 5 minutes without hearing a Kenny Rogers song. Most of us may not realize how many we actually know. I can say, “Name a Kenny Rogers song,” and I’ll probably get “The Gambler” and “Islands in the Stream” quite a bit. But I wouldn’t count out “Lady,” “She Believes in Me,” “Lucille,” “Coward of the County,” “You Decorated My Life,” or “Through the Years.” That’s EIGHT signature songs. Most superstars have one or two.

On top of that, those classics merely represent just over 25% of all of his top tens. He’s had 36 of them–21 of which hit #1. If the CMA Awards were to do a tribute just to Kenny, they’d need another three-hour show. It’s an amazing career, needless to say.

I hope there are tributes to these legends on the CMA’s this fall. I miss that. These guys–all of the Hall of Famers, for that matter–deserve it.

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