Jimmie Rodgers

Posted in Oak Grove Baptist Cemetery with tags , on January 18, 2021 by Cade

September 8, 1897 – May 26, 1933

“The Singing Brakeman”
“The Blue Yodeler”
“The Father of Country Music”

Jimmie Rodgers learned to play music at a very young age. His father, a railway foreman, tried to deter young Jimmie’s wont to become a traveling entertainer by getting him a job at the railyard. Jimmie spent his rail days learning to better play guitar from other workers and passing hobos…as one does. The urge to travel and play never left him and when tuberculosis ended his railroad career at the age of 27, it was all the confirmation Jimmie needed to take a real shot at being a musician.

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Donna Douglas

Posted in Bluff Creek Community Cemetery with tags , , on January 11, 2021 by Cade

September 26, 1932 – January 1, 2015

Doris Ione Smith – known professionally as Donna Douglas (and pop-culturally as Elly May Clampett) – was born and raised outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The local beauty queen moved to New York to pursue a career in modeling and acting. By the time she was 25, her television career was underway. After appearances on shows like The Steve Allen Show and The Perry Como Show, Douglas eventually made her way to Los Angeles and gave a crack at movies.

For the next several years, she appeared in films like Career and Li’l Abner and numerous TV shows including The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and The Twilight Zone. In 1962, she landed a starring role on the new situation comedy, The Beverly Hillibillies, and the rest was history. Continue reading

Percy Sledge

Posted in Heavenly Gates Cemetery with tags , on January 4, 2021 by Cade

sledge2November 25, 1941 – April 14, 2015

Percy Sledge was a popular R&B and Soul singer in the 1960s and ’70s. He worked as an orderly in an Alabama hospital in his early years. Providential encounters through the hospital led to his distinctive and soulful voice getting discovered and he was offered a record contract. Sledge’s first recording produced what would become the signature song of his career: 1966’s “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Continue reading

J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson

Posted in Forest Lawn Memorial Park (TX) with tags , , on December 28, 2020 by Cade

bopper1October 24, 1930 – February 3, 1959

“Hellooo Baby!”

Celebrity and tragedy often go hand in hand. Sometimes, the former leads to the latter. And sometimes, the latter solidifies the former.

Jiles Perry “J.P.” Richardson was a radio personality in East Texas whose biggest claim-to-fame by the time he was 26 was successfully pulling off a 5-day on-air marathon broadcast that found him spinning some 1,821 consecutive records. Known to his audience as “The Big Bopper,” Richardson also dabbled in songwriting. His songs caught the ear of Mercury records and, in 1958, Bopper’s novelty song “Chantilly Lace” started steadily climbing the charts.

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Eddie Kendricks

Posted in Elmwood Cemetery with tags , , , on December 21, 2020 by Cade

kendricks1December 17, 1939 – October 5, 1992

Eddie James Kendrick grew up singing in church in his native Alabama. Through the church choir, he met a young man named Paul Williams and the two quickly formed a doo-wop group called The Cavaliers. They moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1957 and, shortly thereafter, to Detroit where they enjoyed some local success rebranded as The Primes1. In 1961, The Primes broke up, but Kendricks (as he was now calling himself) and Williams joined another group called The Elgins. The Elgins would soon become The Temptations.

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Gene Tierney

Posted in Glenwood Cemetery with tags , on December 14, 2020 by Cade

November 19, 1920 – November 6, 1991

In Hollywood during the 1940s, sensational good looks could get you pretty far; almost as far as raw talent alone. Fortunately for Gene Tierney, she had both. Born in New York and raised in high society Connecticut, a chance trip to California as a teen and a visit to the famous Warner Bros. film studios instantly grabbed young Gene’s attention. She knew from that moment she wanted to be an actor. Acting classes in New York City led to stage appearances and by the time she was 20, she had already made a critical splash on Broadway – the “legitimate theatre” which her father all but demanded she exclusively strive for. From that point, it was an easy jump to Hollywood where – “legitimate” or not – a film career awaited.

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Howard Hughes

Posted in Glenwood Cemetery with tags on December 7, 2020 by Cade

December 24, 1905 – April 5, 1976

Hoo boy. Settle in.

Howard Hughes Jr. was a lot of things. I mean, a LOT of things.

Howard Hughes was a businessman. At the age of 18, young Howard inherited the Hughes Tool Company when his father died. Hughes would use the Tool Company to foray into many successful ventures over the course of his lifetime ranging from real estate to medical research.

Howard Hughes was a film producer. In the 1940s, he gained control of RKO Pictures (as well as its subsidiaries). Under his watch, RKO produced early classic films like Hell’s Angels, The Front Page and the original Scarface. At RKO, Hughes also weeded out the “communists” just for good measure.

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Selena

Posted in Seaside Memorial Park with tags , on November 30, 2020 by Cade

selena1
April 16, 1971 – March 31, 1995

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, known simply as Selena, was a hugely successful American Latin musician and singer. Commonly referred to as “The Queen of Tejano” – the genre of music she would come to dominate and redefine – Selena was the best-selling Latin artist of the 1990’s. From a young age, she performed with her family all around her native South Texas, eventually landing a recording contract with EMI Latin.

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Glen Campbell

Posted in Campbell's Cemetery with tags , , , , , on November 23, 2020 by Cade

April 22, 1936 – August 8, 2017

Glen Campbell was not the first “Rhinestone Cowboy,” but he’s arguably the most famous. At least, that’s what you might suspect judging him solely by his biggest hit.

Despite personally resonating with the titular character in the chart-topping 1975 song, Campbell was so much more than a sequined journeyman waiting for his turn in the spotlight.

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Minnie Pearl

Posted in Mt. Hope Cemetery (TN) with tags , , on November 16, 2020 by Cade

October 25, 1912 – March 4, 1996

All together now: “How-DEEE!”

The stage of the Grand Ole Opry is hallowed ground. Whether it was the historic stage of the famed Ryman Auditorium, or the newfangled stage at the modern Opry House, setting foot upon it can be life-changing for anyone with the fortune to do so. It transforms performers. None more literally than a young comedienne named Sarah Colley, who stepped onto the Opry stage and became…Minnie Pearl.

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