Mandrell, Clark, McCoy join Country Hall of Fame
February 4, 2009
By JOHN GEROME – 1 hour ago
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Barbara Mandrell, Roy Clark and Charlie McCoy will become the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Country Music Association announced the selections Wednesday in Nashville.
All three will be formally inducted in the spring. Mandrell was introduced by her sister and sometime musical partner, Louise, who said Barbara “got where she is through hard work and determination. But she didn’t waver one inch from her priorities: God, country and family.”
The 60-year-old Mandrell said the support of her father, Irby Mandrell, was unwavering when she was a child and a young woman, even starting the Mandrell Family Band to help her realize her dream. He also managed his daughter’s career.
“This is me being honored, and this is Irby Mandrell being honored. Because he earned it,” she said during her emotional remarks. Mandrell began her professional career in California when she was 11.
She made her national TV debut on ABC with Red Foley’s “Five Star Jubilee.” Her first concert tour was with Johnny and June Carter Cash, Patsy Cline and George Jones.
She charted her first single in 1969, a remake of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” and went on to have a long run of country hits including “Midnight Oil,” “Married But Not to Each Other,” “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed” and “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.”
At the height of her career, she acted in TV shows like the “The Rockford Files” and in 1980 joined sisters Louise and Irlene to host “Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters” on NBC, which drew 40 million viewers a week and broadened her exposure beyond country music.
Mandrell has two Grammys. But she said her Hall of Fame selection is special. “I’m about 6-feet off the ground right now,” the 5-foot-2 entertainer said. “It’s too much to dream and hope and certainly pray for.”
Clark was introduced by his friend Carl Smith, who said he has a lot of stories to tell about Clark but none suitable for a general audience. “The thing about Roy is he’s an entertainer,” said Smith, himself a Hall of Famer.
“He can play many instruments, and he can play them all well.” Clark, 75, who’s probably best known for co-hosting the long-running TV show “Hee Haw,” said the idea of one day becoming a member of the Hall of Fame was in the back of his mind, “but I didn’t dwell on it because I didn’t want to be disappointed.”
“This is just about the top of your rewards for the years you’ve put in entertaining,” Clark said backstage before his introduction.
“You get to thinking about all of your friends, and now you’re going to get to become part of the fraternity.
That’s mind-boggling, to hear your name mentioned in the same breath as Eddy Arnold, Grandpa Jones, Buck Owens, Roy Acuff, Jimmy Rodgers.” An ace picker, Clark got his start on Jimmy Dean’s TV show “Town and Country Time” and took over the show when Dean left.
He moved to Las Vegas in 1960 and became a regular at the Golden Nugget. Later, he toured and recorded with Wanda Jackson and was a regular at the Frontier Hotel in Vegas.
In the ’60s he had top 10 hits with “Tips of My Fingers” and “Yesterday When I Was Young.” He also broke into TV, appearing on “The Tonight Show” and “The Jackie Gleason Show” and playing recurring characters on the “Beverly Hillbillies.”
But Clark’s biggest break came when CBS developed a country version of the comedy series “Laugh In” and picked him and Buck Owens to co-host.
McCoy was chosen to the Hall of Fame for his skills as a musician. He became one of Nashville’s top session players in the 1960s and is still going strong.
He was introduced by fellow Hall of Famer Mel Tillis, who discovered McCoy playing in a club in Florida when he was only 17. “I invited him to come to Nashville,” recalled Tillis, who introduced McCoy on Music Row.
McCoy, a multi-instrumentalist best known for his harmonica work, said that when he arrived to town, he didn’t know what a “session” was. But he learned fast watching a teenage Brenda Lee record “Sweet Nothin’s.”
“When I saw those musicians working and heard that first playback, I said ‘I want to do this.
To heck with singing,'” McCoy recalled. His first session was Roy Orbison’s “Candy Man” in 1961 (the gig paid $49), and he quickly became a sought-after player.
He’s recorded with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Gordon Lightfoot, Paul Simon, Ringo Starr, Leon Russell, Tanya Tucker and many more.