Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: The Biography cable TV channel has a series about women in country music, and among those featured are Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton.

While it is normal to point out each of their subject's career highlights and claims to fame, it seems each of these ladies is the all-time No. 1 female artist (i.e., the most hits; most albums; the most awards, etc., etc.).

Might there also be other women running in the same all-star pack?

Can you be my source for a more objective comparison?
—Ruth Bailey, Clearwater, Fla.

DEAR RUTH: Hopefully more of a source spot than a sore spot.

The varied accomplishments of these two superstars are legendary, so whatever spin is in the pitch from some publicist can likely be excused.

Perhaps not as well-known as their many hits is that Dolly and Loretta wrote most of their music, a skill for which we should applaud them both.

Ranking right alongside this pair is Reba McEntire, which means our trio is now blonde, brunette, and redhead.

Dolly leads the pack in most singles sales categories, followed by Reba, then Loretta.

The albums race is a bit tighter, but Dolly still wins by a nose (notice I resisted the obvious anatomical reference). These gals usually make up the Top 3, no matter how you sort things.

All things considered, I would have to choose Dolly Parton as the overall No. 1 female C&W star.

DEAR JERRY: Noticed in one of your past columns that Connie Francis is still not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Your outrage about this situation is shared by many of us, and we would like to write them and express our feelings on the matter.

I know they are located in Cleveland, but what is their mailing address?
—Daniel Klemmer, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR DANIEL: You are not alone, as Dennis Dibb, of Brown Deer, Wisc., asks the exact same question.

You are correct about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Museum being in Cleveland. However, that is only where decisions made in New York are reflected for the public to view. No one at the museum is involved in either the nomination or the selection process.

So please don't blame them.

The Cleveland staff is just as helpless to understand the Foundation's choices and oversights as we are. They certainly realize their credibility is seriously damaged by the Foundation — a faction whose mysterious and unnamed “experts” feel “the impact on the evolution, development and perpetuation of Rock and Roll” of Patti Smith, Percy Sledge, and Grandmaster Flash is greater than that of Connie Francis, Dave Clark Five, Pat Boone, Neil Diamond, ABBA, the Hollies, and numerous others.

If only this were just an April Fool's joke. To say such decisions are idiotic is an understatement. There is no credibility left to salvage.

Personally, I recommend all my readers support the newly-founded Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

Here you all have a direct say as to who is inducted.

I'll report again on this fine project, but for now just visit their fabulous site:

Meanwhile, those with comments or suggestions for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation must use this address:

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation
1290 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10104

For another take on this topic, read on:

DEAR JERRY: Who are those people on the nominating committee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Are you a member of this secret committee?

It seems every year there are artists who the majority of music fans feel are unworthy of induction, while others deemed truly worthy are overlooked.

Who makes up the panel that decides such things?
—Frank Rousch, Cincinnati, Ohio

DEAR FRANK: I am definitely not involved with the R&R Hall. Neither their committee, nor in any other capacity.

The committee appears made up of a group of anonymous “hand-picked” music experts. I have no idea who they are.

There has been endless controversy surrounding their choices, including what influences may also be at play in making those choices.

I recently read an excellent series on all of this in the online oldies music newsletter, “Forgotten Hits,” published by Kent Kotal of the '60s Shop.

Kent takes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Committee to task on many issues, and offers helpful suggestions as to how they might improve. In it, there is no shortage of ranting and raving regarding who is Hall worthy and who is not.

Overall, the series makes a strong case for the need to change how things are currently being done.

There is also a “Deserving and Denied Artists” list — stars that truly belong in Hall of Fame but have never even so much as made the ballot.

For more information about “Forgotten Hits,” and this fascinating series in particular, just send an e-mail to:

DEAR JERRY: Singer-songwriters like Hank Williams are few and far between. Hank didn't live long, I know, but what percentage of his hits did he write?
—Lara Marion, Skokie, Ill.

DEAR LARA: Hank still managed to compose 128 songs in roughly five years, all of which he recorded and all still available on CD.

From this self-penned collection, 46 tracks wound up on one side or another of a hit MGM single.

Along the way, Hank also waxed and turned into hits 15 tunes written by other folks.

Several of these are so closely associated with Williams that many fans think of them as his compositions. Among them are: “Lovesick Blues;” “My Bucket's Got a Hole in It;” “Half As Much;” “Settin' the Woods on Fire;” and “Take These Chains from My Heart.”

Had Hank's career lasted more than just five years — he died January 1, 1953 at age 29 — it is reasonable to think he would rank as one of history's most prolific songwriters.

IZ ZAT SO? Another singer-songwriter, Bob Dylan, is so highly-regarded as a tunesmith that it might be assumed he penned anything he records. Furthermore, “A Fool Such As I” is the only one of his 23 hit singles NOT written by him. But it didn't start out that way. Of the 12 tracks comprising his debut, self-titled album, Bob composed only two: “Talkin' New York” And “Song to Woody.”

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