Category Archives: 100 Greatest Men

100 Greatest Men: #11. Waylon Jennings

Waylon Jennings100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

Waylon Jennings was the very embodiment of the country music outlaw movement in the seventies, demonstrating that legendary music can be made if artists are liberated to create it in the way that they want to.

Jennings was born in Littlefield, Texas, and was playing the guitar and singing on the radio by the time he was twelve years old.    Jennings dropped out of school at age fourteen, and picked cotton while pursuing music in his spare time. When he moved to Lubbock, he became friendly with rising rock star Buddy Holly, who took Jennings under his wing. Holly produced a single for Jennings and had him fill in as a bass player in the Crickets.

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100 Greatest Men: #12. Eddy Arnold

Eddy Arnold100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

With a sweeping career that spanned six decades, Eddy Arnold was a pivotal force in country music as it grew from a regionally popular musical style into a genre popular throughout the country.

Arnold was raised on a Tennessee farm, and as he developed his musical talent, he would play local barn dances when he wasn’t working in the fields.  Like many artists of his time, he first gained popularity on local radio stations, eventually moving to Memphis, where his radio work brought him widespread acclaim.

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100 Greatest Men: #13. Bill Monroe

Bill Monroe100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

Few artists can claim creative ownership over an entire genre of music.   Bill Monroe is one of those few artists, as the Father of Bluegrass led the way for a vibrant subgenre of country music that is still thriving today.

Monroe grew up in a musical family, honing his mandolin skills from a young age.  When his parents died before he was a teenager, he went to live with his Uncle Pen, who would eventually become the namesake of one of Monroe’s classic bluegrass tunes.  After he came of age, he followed his older brothers to Indiana, where he played in a band with his siblings on nights and weekends.  When one brother departed, Monroe continued performing with the other as the Monroe Brothers.

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100 Greatest Men: #14. Ray Price

Ray Price100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

One of the few traditionalists who was able to successfully transition into the smoother Nashville Sound style, Ray Price was a defining artist in two completely different eras of country music history.

A small town Texas native, Price moved to Dallas as a child and learned how to play the guitar.   After a stint in the Marines, Price returned to Texas and became popular on local radio as the Cherokee Cowboy.   By the early fifties, he was ready to pursue a major label deal in Nashville, landing with Columbia and scoring his first hit in 1952 with “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes.”

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100 Greatest Men: #15. Conway Twitty

Conway Twitty100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

He started out as a pop teen idol, but Conway Twitty’s powerful vocals and smart taste in material made him one of country music’s longest reigning superstars.

Twitty was born in Mississippi and raised in Arkansas, a background that exposed him to gospel and blues music, as well as country music. By age ten, he was playing in his own country band, but his attention was set on being a professional baseball player.  Unfortunately, as soon as he was offered a contract by the Philadelphia Phillies, he was drafted into the army.

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100 Greatest Men: #16. Marty Robbins

Marty Robbins100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

A pioneer in both country and rock and roll music, and the father of the country music concept album, Marty Robbins expanded the both the scope and reach of country music throughout his four decade career.

Robbins was one of ten children, raised in Phoenix, Arizona.  His Native American grandmother kept him riveted with stories of the American West, and a stint in the military found him stationed in Hawaii, where he developed a taste for island music.    When he left the forces, he played local clubs around Phoenix, eventually becoming the host of a local television show.

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100 Greatest Men: #17. Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

The biggest crossover star that country music has ever known, Kenny Rogers was among the biggest stars of any genre in the seventies and eighties, becoming a worldwide icon and one of the genre’s finest ambassadors.

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Rogers started off as a rockabilly artist in the mid-fifties, as part of a band called the Scholars. Though he was not the lead singer of the band, Rogers pursued a solo career when they disbanded.   When that proved unsuccessful, he joined a jazz trio called the Bobby Doyle Three.   They did reasonably well on the concert circuit, but when Rogers again pursued a solo career after they folded, he was not successful.

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100 Greatest Men: #18. Ernest Tubb

Ernest Tubb100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

One of the earliest members of both the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ernest Tubb’s legacy stretches back to the 1940’s, when he became one of country music’s earliest national stars.

Hailing from Texas, Tubb was the son of a sharecropper who passed the time listening to Jimmie Rodgers records, which inspired him to take up singing and yodeling.  By age nineteen, he was singing on the radio in San Antonio, while digging ditches for the federal government to pay the bills.   He wrote Rodgers’s widow, hoping for an autograph, and it started a friendship that motivated her to help Tubb land a recording contract.

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100 Greatest Men: #19. Webb Pierce

Webb Pierce100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

Rocketing to stardom in the aftermath of Hank Williams’ death, Webb Pierce became country music’s biggest superstar in the 1950’s, dominating the charts and establishing a flamboyant style that would become forever associated with traditional, honky-tonk country music.

Pierce grew up in Louisiana, cutting his teeth on Jimmie Rodgers records and already developing his own sound by his teenage years.  At age fifteen, he already had a weekly radio show, performing his combination of the Cajun sounds of his home state and the Western Swing that was dominating country music at the time.

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100 Greatest Men: #20. Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

Arriving on the scene in 1989 with a great song sense and a strong background in marketing, Garth Brooks emerged as the poster boy for the nineties country boom, and along the way, became the biggest record-seller in America since the Beatles.

Brooks was born and raised in Oklahoma, the son of Capitol country recording artist Colleen Carroll.   He grew up with music around the house, and learned to play the guitar and the banjo.  His athletic prowess earned him a track scholarship at Oklahoma State University, but his interest soon turned to music.  He began performing around Stillwater, becoming a major draw on the local talent circuit.

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