May 23, 2010 11:48 PM by Chris Welty
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Two men who often felt like outsiders in
Nashville, even as they took country music to new heights, were
inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday.
Ferlin Husky and Billy Sherrill were responsible for dozens of
No. 1 hits and helped bring the genre to larger audiences over a
period of decades that served as country music's formative years.
Yet the 84-year-old Husky waited decades to become a member of
the Hall, and the survivor of nine heart bypass surgeries thought
he'd die before he would make it.
"I want to thank everybody who had anything to do with bringing
me into this group, the people I've admired since I was a little
child," an emotional Husky said in a short acceptance speech.
Sherrill, now 73, was often criticized even as he created some
of music's most endearing moments, regardless of genre.
He turned Tammy Wynette and Tanya Tucker into stars and, taking
his cues from Chet Atkins, Owen Bradley and even Phil Spector,
pushed country music into territory once reserved only for pop
music. He even put a saxophone on a George Jones record.
"The thing is Billy just loved the sound of violins on a love
song," said Kyle Young, director of the Hall of Fame. "He changed
Nashville's production style, became a controversial genius and
created immortal country music."
Husky helped bring country music to millions of new fans with a
series of No. 1 hits in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, including
"Gone" and "Wings of a Dove." He parlayed that success into
work in film and television and was one of the first country
artists to get his name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He was a variety show regular, and had 51 singles on the
Billboard country music charts and sold 20 million records in his
"In the mid-50s Ferlin would create the template for the famed
Nashville Sound, a sound that gave rock 'n' roll a run for its
money and forever put Music City on the map," Young said. "The
multitalented and musically versatile Ferlin Husky was always ahead
of his time."
It was the shy Sherrill's ability to write, produce, play and
record material for the singers he worked with that put him on
Nashville's bad side. Songwriters particularly claimed he was
cutting them out, but it's hard to argue with the results.
Sherrill had a vision for his performers and if the songs
submitted didn't fit, he supplied his own.
Wynette became his greatest creation. The pair put 39 songs on
the country music charts, including the iconic "Stand By Your
Man" and 19 other No. 1 hits.
Jones objected to recording "He Stopped Loving Her Today," but
eventually relented and scored another No. 1 for a song that
eventually became the Country Music Association's song of the year
And don't forget Johnny Paycheck's "Take This Job And Shove
It," another song that wasn't just popular but infected American
culture. He touched the careers of dozens of singers, including Roy
Orbison, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash and even Elvis Presley.
"You have created the soundtrack of our lives with the records
you made," Ronnie Milsap said before singing "The Most Beautiful
Girl." "How many people have copied all the things you used to
do. I did it. And I'm going to keep on doing it."
Sherrill eventually got his due from Nashville insiders and in
1999 was named BMI's songwriter of the decade. He seemed surprised
by the news he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier this
year, and was characteristically low key after being called to the
stage, where he thanked Sam Phillips and Clive Davis, among others.
"You've got to have a lot of help to get here and I had it,"
Sherrill said. "There's not a hell of a lot else to say."
Two other inductees, Jimmy Dean and Don Williams, will be
enshrined in October.