Five American Legends On Stage For The First Time In Nevada
Lacy J. Dalton
Rex Allen Jr.
Eclectic and bluesy, Lacy J. Dalton was one of the most distinctive female country singers of the '80s, landing a few hits on the strength of her gritty, nuanced vocals. Dalton was born Jill Byrem in Bloomsburg, PA, in 1948 and grew up in a highly musical family; her first loves were folkies like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, but she also soaked up country music through her father. She briefly attended Brigham Young University but dropped out and drifted around the country for a time; she eventually went to Los Angeles, then migrated to Santa Cruz, where she performed as a protest-oriented folksinger. During the late '60s, she sang with a Bay Area psychedelic rock band called Office; she also became Jill Croston when she married the group's manager, though, sadly, he died in a swimming pool accident. She went on to reinvent herself as a country performer, adopting the stage name Lacy J. Dalton, and landed a deal with CBS when producer Billy Sherrill heard her demo tape in 1979. Her Top 20 debut single, "Crazy Blue Eyes," helped her win the CMA's Best New Artist Award, and she scored an impressive run of hits over the next three years, highlighted by "Hard Times," "Tennessee Waltz," "Hillbilly Girl with the Blues," the number two smash "Takin' It Easy," "16th Avenue," and "Everybody Makes Mistakes" (all but "Tennessee Waltz" made the Top Ten). Dalton's albums also received strong reviews for their adventurous, borderless taste in material, particularly her self-titled debut. A 1983 cover of Roy Orbison's "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)" was her final Top Ten entry, but she continued to record for CBS through 1987; part of her commercial slide was due to her ambitious stylistic shifts, as she devoted attention to rock-oriented material (1986's Highway Diner, whose "Working Class Man" was a decent-sized hit), blues, and bluegrass. She subsequently departed for Capitol, where she recorded four albums through 1992. In 1999, she assembled the Wild Horse Crossing compilation, which featured several new tracks of her own and was released by her own Let 'Em Run Foundation, which worked to preserve the wild horses of the west.
Just like Hank Williams, Jr. he's standing in the shadows of a very famous man, but David Frizzell became a country star in his own right during the '80s. The younger brother of country legend Lefty Frizzell, David was born September 26, 1941, in El Dorado, AK. At the age of 12, he hitchhiked to California to join Lefty, who added the youth to his show and persuaded Columbia to sign him in 1958. Nothing came of the deal, however, and David spent the '60s touring with his brother, recording for several minor labels and spending time in the Air Force. He returned to Columbia in 1970 and placed two singles on the country charts, including the Top 40 entry "I Just Can't Help Believing." (B.J. Thomas took it to the pop Top Ten the same year.)
Frizzell moved to Nashville a year later and recorded for the Cartwheel label. Just after he joined Buck Owens' All American TV Show in 1973, Frizzell signed a contract with Capitol and recorded two modest hits, "Words Don't Come Easy" and "Take Me One More Ride." After some mid-'70s recordings for RSO and MCA, he joined his younger brother Allen and Allen's wife Shelly West on a tour around the Southwest.
David and West recorded some material, and their single "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma" was included on Clint Eastwood's 1981 film Any Which Way You Can; it topped the country chart early that year. "A Texas State of Mind" hit number nine in June, and the duo closed out 1981 with "Husbands and Wives," a Top 20 hit. The following year, Frizzell and West hit the Top Ten again on the strength of "Another Honky-Tonk Night on Broadway" and "I Just Came Here to Dance." They won numerous Duo of the Year awards beginning that year.
Jump started by his duet success, Frizzell hit number one as a solo act in 1982 with "I'm Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home," from Family's Fine, but This One's All Mine. His next two singles, "Lost My Baby Blues" and "Where Are You Spending Your Nights These Days," hit the Top Ten during 1982-1983. He recorded only one more Top 40 single, "A Million Light Beers Ago," but Frizzell and West had back-to-back hits in 1984: "Silent Partners" and "It's a Be Together Night." Frizzell continued to record during the '80s, for Nashville America, Compleat, and BFE.
Rex Allen, Jr. is the son of Rex Allen, the country music singer who scored seven country hits between 1949 and 1968, the biggest of which was 1953's "Crying in the Chapel," which crossed over to number eight in the pop chart. Allen Jr. was born in Chicago and traveled with his father from the age of six. He took up the guitar and later worked as a rodeo clown. Moving to Nashville in the late '60s, he broke into the country charts himself with "The Great Mail Robbery" in 1973 and first reached the country Top Ten with "Two Less Lonely People" in 1977.
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A veteran singer and guitarist who has become one of the mainstays of country music, Jimmy Fortune spent more than two decades as a member of the vocal group the Statler Brothers before moving on to a solo career. Born in Staunton, Virginia on March 11, 1955, Fortune began his career as a singer in high school as a member of the Nelcon County High School choir. After leaving school in 1973, he decided to take a shot at a professional career in music. Though Fortune was a gifted singer with a strong tenor voice, he struggled to land his big break until 1981. That year, Lew DeWitt of the Statler Brothers, the famed country vocal group that also hailed from Staunton, heard Fortune singing at a ski resort and was favorably impressed with his talents. DeWitt was struggling with Crohn’s Disease and no longer up to the demands of the Statlers' busy schedule, so he suggested Fortune as a good substitute for a handful of upcoming shows. Fortune passed an audition with the Statler Brothers, and soon became DeWitt's permanent replacement in the quartet. Fortune's tenor vocals, and guitar work became an integral part of the group, and he wrote several of their latter-day hits, including "Elizabeth," "Too Much on My Heart," and "More Than a Name on a Wall." In 2002, Statlers' founders Don Reid, Harold Reid, and Phil Balsley decided it was time to retire the group, and Fortune transitioned into a solo career. He released his first solo album, When One Door Closes, in 2003, and a gospel collection, I Believe, followed in late 2005. Fortune's first holiday-themed album, Feels Like Christmas, was issued in 2007, the same year he and his bandmates in the Statler Brothers were inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. Fortune and the Statlers were welcomed into the Country Music Association Hall of Fame in 2008, and in 2009, Fortune released a new album, Windows, through his own Fortune Enterprises label. Another country album, Lessons, dropped in 2012 and in 2015, Fortune teamed with gospel legend Bill Gaither for an album called Hits and Hymns, in which Fortune performed some of his best-loved songs as a solo artist and a member of the Statler Brothers, as well as a number of his favorite gospel numbers. The album included guest appearances from Vince Gill, the Oak Ridge Boys, Ricky Skaggs, the Whites, the Gaither Vocal Band, and more.
Being the son of the famous country singer Merle Haggard has created many challenges for Marty Haggard. Raised in a boxcar by his grandmother, Marty Haggard was already quite a country music star by the time he was 12 years old. In his teens, he managed to begin an acting career, was in a TV series, and was involved in the formative stages of a Henry Fonda movie. His acting career ended when he picked up a hitchhiker who shot him and left him in the desert for dead. He somehow drove himself back to civilization while first gaining and then losing consciousness. A long recovery followed.
In 1979, Haggard began his formal career as a country music singer and toured with his own band. In 1981, he signed with Dimension Records and cut his first single, "Charleston Cotton Mill." He traveled with his father's band from 1983 to 1985, but missed having his own personal career so returned to Nashville in 1985.
In 1986, Haggard signed with MTM Records. The label released Trains Make Me Lonesome, which won him a nomination by the Academy of Country Music as Top New Male Vocalist. In 1988, just as he was being acknowledged as one of the hottest up-and-coming country stars, Haggard again had a physical disaster when he was thrown through the windshield of his car and incurred serious head injuries and memory loss. It was almost four years before he regained his memory, motor skills, and ability to function.
In 1995, after Haggard signed with the Critique/BMG label, he felt strongly that he needed to return to God and walked out on the album he was recording to begin seeking how to serve his Lord. Critique released both the album Borders & Boundaries and the single "Amnesia" in 1996. After more than a year in California, Haggard went to Conway, AR, to begin his spiritual/singing ministry in July of 1998.
Haggard's success in this chosen direction is evidenced by his multiple appearances on Nashville Now, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Music City Tonight, Crook & Chase, and at the Grand Ole Opry. He also appeared on The Today Show and was featured in People magazine. He formed his own in-house Marty Haggard Music in 1998 and two albums under that imprint, Ready or Not and The Bridge, appeared in 2000. Haggard next signed with Mansion, the recording imprint of Branson’s Mansion Theatre, and a second coming of The Bridge was released in 2010.
All biographies provided courtesy of CMT.com.