When citing the names of artists that he felt were worthy of induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame before him who weren’t yet a member, Garth Brooks would often bring up the name of Ricky Skaggs. After this morning, he can take that name off the list!
Brooks – a 2011 inductee into the Hall – and wife Trisha Yearwood announced the name of three new inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame this morning at the Hall’s Rotunda. Skaggs was announced as the inductee for the Hall’s Modern category, while Dottie West (Veteran) and Johnny Gimble (Musician) were also named to the most exclusive club in country music history.
When historians look back at the decade of the 1980s in country music, the name of Ricky Skaggs is often given credit for helping to steer the format back toward a more traditional sound during the heart of the Urban Cowboy era. A child prodigy on the mandolin, Skaggs developed his musical talent early, playing in several bluegrass bands in his native Eastern Kentucky. It was while he was in his teenage years that he worked with Keith Whitley in Ralph Stanley’s band. Later collaborators of Skaggs would include future Country Music Hall of Fame member Vince Gill (in a band called Boone Creek) before he would take a job backing Emmylou Harris. The exposure that he gained with Harris led to a record contract with Epic Records. His first album for the label, Waitin’ For The Sun To Shine, was heralded as a critical masterpiece and was also certified Gold, paving the way for modern-day triumphs as Highways and Heartaches, Don’t Cheat In Our Hometown, and 1985’s Live In London, one of the top concert albums of all time in the format. He topped the singles chart with such hits as “I Wouldn’t Change A Thing About You If I Could,” “Highway 40 Blues,” and “Lovin’ Only Me.” A 1985 CMA Entertainer of the Year winner, Skaggs continued to record country music into the 1990s, when he – as a result of a promise made to Bill Monroe – returned to the bluegrass music of his youth in 1997. He established Skaggs Family Records, and has brought a deep appreciation of the music to fans and fellow musicians alike.
The induction into the Hall for Dottie West has been something that her fans have lobbied for many years – with some of those strongest voices being Larry Gatlin and Steve Wariner – both of whom she extended helping hands to early in their careers (with Wariner playing in her band) as well as Kenny Rogers, who recorded a classic string of duet hits with her from 1978-81. Born outside of McMinnville, Tennessee, West grew up enchanted with the sounds she would hear coming from Nashville on her radio growing up. Her trek there would not be a direct one – as she would spend time in Ohio after graduation and marriage. However, by 1959, West would have returned to her home state – inking a record deal with Starday. Success would take a while to find her, and at first, it would be as a writer. She penned “Is This Me” for Grand Ole Opry superstar Jim Reeves in 1963, and the success of that track landed her on the roster of RCA Victor. Her 1964 single “Here Comes My Baby” solidified her spot as a rising star – making her the first female country performer to win a Grammy. Later hits for West would include “Would You Hold It Against Me,” “Paper Mansions,” and “Country Sunshine,” – with the latter song helping to earn her a Cilo Award after the song’s inclusion in a 1973 ad campaign for Coca-Cola.
West left RCA in 1975, signing with United Artists. One afternoon, when Kenny Rogers showed up early for a recording session that was scheduled after hers, the two struck up not only a life-long friendship, but a million-selling partnership with the recording of “Every Time Two Fools Collide,” a number one hit from 1978. The two would tally a pair of CMA Vocal Duo awards in 1978-79, and would also team up for one of the biggest tours in country music history to that time (with the Oak Ridge Boys). Though West’s hits came to an end in the early 1980s, she remained a popular touring artist on the road, as well as on the Grand Ole Opry, where she was a member for close to three decades. West was on her way to that very stage when she was involved in an automobile accident in August of 1991, succumbing to her injuries on September 4.
Also being inducted as part of the Hall’s Class of 2018 is the late Johnny Gimble. A five-time CMA Instrumentalist / Musician of the Year winner, the Texas native was a one-time member of Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys. As one of the greatest fiddle players in the genre’s history, his work can be hear on records from artists such as Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins, George Strait, and Connie Smith. The trio of performers will be formally inducted this Fall during the invitation-only Medallion Ceremony at the Hall in Nashville.