Chet Atkins

Posted in Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens with tags , , , on February 15, 2021 by Cade

atkins3
June 20, 1924 – June 30, 2001

Iconic guitarist, instrumentalist and producer, Chester “Chet” Atkins rarely basked in the limelight during his 50+ year career. He was more than happy to play on a friend’s record, or churn out hit after hit from the helm of the now-legendary RCA Victor studio in Nashville, Tennessee. That is not to say he wasn’t gifted in his own right. You don’t win 14 Grammys, 9 CMA awards or earn the nickname “Mr. Guitar” by being a slouch. But his biggest contribution to the music industry was undoubtedly his time spent cultivating the “Nashville Sound” that allowed Country music to successfully cross over to Pop audiences throughout the 1950s and ’60s.

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Donna Summer

Posted in Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens with tags , , on February 8, 2021 by Cade

December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012

The undisputed Queen of Disco, Donna Summer (LaDonna Gaines) was a steady presence in the Billboard Top 40 for more than a decade in the 1970s and ’80s. Born in Boston, Summer took a very unconventional route to international stardom. She left high school and moved to New York City to pursue a career in musical theatre…specifically, she wanted to be in the groundbreaking show Hair. She ended up landing a role in the Munich production of the show. While in Germany, she began her recording career and eventually fell in with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte and began writing, recording and shopping new songs all throughout Europe. In 1974, the trio was able to get her single, “Love to Love You Baby” into the hands of Casablanca Records in the U.S. It became a hit and a popular early track in the emerging Disco scene.

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Sun Ra

Posted in Elmwood Cemetery with tags , on February 1, 2021 by Cade

May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993

 Le Sony’r Ra (born Herman Blount) was an avant-garde jazz musician, composer, artist, poet and bandleader who came up through the Chicago Jazz scene of the 1940s. He fronted the cosmic and experimental music collective, The Arkestra, for nearly 4 decades. He often shortened his stage name to simply “Sun Ra” and held a deep connection to the Egyptian god of the sun. In addition to music, he dabbled in philosophy (though he rejected the term, claiming philosophy was based on “theory” and his thoughts were based on “logic”).

He also may have been an alien.

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Paul “Bear” Bryant

Posted in Elmwood Cemetery with tags , , on January 25, 2021 by Cade

September 11, 1913 – January 26, 1983

Legendary college football coach, Bear Bryant, is widely regarded as the best coach in the history of the sport. His 38 year head coaching career garnered 6 National Championships and 15 Conference titles. He is most closely associated with the University of Alabama, where he played as a student and spent 24 years at the helm of the Crimson Tide program. He remains the youngest head coach to reach 300 career wins and 30 winning seasons. He only had one losing season in his entire career. Bryant was named conference coach of the year 15 times. Though most of his on-field success was at Alabama, he also was the head coach at Maryland, Kentucky and Texas A&M.

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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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