Country Music Hall Of Fame - The Gladiators

This appeared in the Country Music Association's Award Program - October 1993

Imagine Country Music without "Sweet Dreams," "Crazy," Okie From Muskogee," "Life Turned Her That Way," "Oh Lonesome Me," "Crazy Arms," "Night Life," "Tiger By The Tail," Farm Aid, a Cherokee Cowboy, Harlan's Birthday Bash, The Outlaws, "Mama Tried," "A Legend In My Time," "Branded Man," "Heartaches By The Number," "I Fall To Pieces" and "Working Man Blues." Then we would never had the magic of Don Gibson, Merle Haggard, Harlan Howard, Willie Nelson and Ray Price.

These master singers, poets and players are each nominated for the ultimate milestone in any Country performer's career, The Country Music Hall of Fame. Personally, I think this would be a good year to bend the rules and bestow the honor upon all five of these distinguished gentlemen. However, only one will be elected.

In a moment when Country Music is being hailed as "the new culture," I often wonder what the likes of these men think as they watch and listen, knowing that they were blazing new trails, expanding the horizons, writing timeless combinations of words and melodies, watching their works hold us together as rock 'n' roll tried to steal the show and eventually open the doors to the likes of me and my peers and afford us the glory road on which we are now traveling.

The glory road stands tried and true because of the foundation. And a major portion of the foundation of Country Music is supported by the songs, sweat, stories and dignity of Gibson, Haggard, Howard, Nelson and Price. Five more reasons as to why it's honorable to be a country singer.

There's a measure of love and admiration waiting on these men wherever they go. I contacted a few friends and asked them to pass some of it around.

Gibson, Hag, Harlan, Willie and Price. Thank God these men and their music are still alive and well. They've sold millions of records, performed before millions and lived enough for a hundred people. What's left? Maybe they should get a band and a bus, work up a show and go on tour together. I know who'd buy the first ticket.

By Marty Stuart

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