Friday, March 15, 2013

Jack Greene: 1930-2013

Country music legend Jack Greene passed away on March 14th at the age of 83 from complications of Alzheimer's Disease.

While not much of an expert on all things Jack Greene I enjoyed hearing the songs that he made famous. I became aware of Jack Greene at some point in the early 1990's when looking through an issue of the out of print Country Music Magazine. Within this magazine they'd have advertisements for cassette's and LP's of a lot of artists from the '50s and '60s that I wasn't familiar with up until that point...and Jack Greene was one of those artists. I was a teenager in the 1990's and was nowhere near as familiar with country music's history as I am now. As the '90s went on I stumbled upon WSM radio's frequency while searching the AM dial...I'd known of the station for awhile due to the publicity it got on TNN during their airing of The Grand Ole Opry segment on Saturday evenings. For me, finding WSM radio by accident, it was like finding a goldmine...at long last I was hearing the actual Grand Ole Opry on the radio instead of seeing the half hour segment that TNN aired. I had never thought to seek out WSM's frequency simply because I live several states away from Tennessee and in my mind there was no way I could be able to hear that station.

Anyway, while listening to the Opry that night and in many, many more Saturday nights to come I learned rather quickly that the televised portion of the Opry that I'd been watching for several years was much different in tone and delivery than what the radio audiences and those who attended the show in person heard. It was an Opry radio broadcast on one of those Saturday nights in the mid 1990's that I heard Jack Greene perform "Statue of a Fool" and "There Goes My Everything". He, like a lot of other Opry members of considerable membership longevity, were rarely shown on the nationally televised portion on TNN but you could hear them consistently on the radio broadcast. Jack also hosted half hour segments of the show and would often have Jeannie Seely on his portion of the show. This would often reverse later in the night...Jeannie would host a 30 minute segment and have Jack Greene appear.

1967 was the year of Jack Greene in country music. This was the year that he won multiple awards at the first ever CMA gala: Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year for There Goes My Everything, and Single of the Year for "There Goes My Everything". The song's writer, Dallas Frazier, won for Song of the Year.

A common practice for a general audience is to assume that Jack Greene was a 'one hit wonder' given the enormous popularity of "There Goes My Everything" and how it dominated country radio and the country music awards in 1967. Jack, in truth, had a total of five #1 hits with five more reaching the Top-10 for an overall total of ten Top-10 singles. Also, he sent 13 singles into the country Top-40...9 of those singles would climb into the Top-20...so, in truth, Jack had more hits than "There Goes My Everything" but in hindsight it happened to be his biggest single as it stayed at #1 for seven weeks!

He had a healthy string of Top-40 singles beginning late in 1966 and running uninterrupted through 1974. So, when you factor in all of Jack's major hit singles occurred within an 8 year time span, it puts into perspective of just how popular he truly was. I have a theory as to why he didn't have as many Top-10 singles as he could have had and it has to do with music industry politics and the various changes that were taking place in country music right at the time he hit it big in 1967...but there's no denying that for the next 6 years he was one of the biggest singers in country music and the statistics speak for themselves.

After 1974 he had just two singles manage to climb above #50 on the country singles chart...both of these singles arrived in 1980 with one of them climbing into the Top-30 and it's my assumption that the unexpected Top-30 success of the single was treated more or less as a fluke and perhaps as a response against the Urban Cowboy trend because it was during this era that 1950's and 1960's recording artists who hadn't been in the Top-10 for quite awhile were experiencing airplay revivals. Eddy Arnold reached the Top-10 in the early '80s, a full decade after having his last Top-10 singles in 1969. Hank Snow had a couple of singles reach the country Top-40 during the same 1979/1980 era. Snow's previous Top-10 had been the surprise #1 "Hello Love" in 1974. Hank Thompson was another artist in 1979/1980 that had not had a Top-40 single for several years (going back to 1974) but suddenly he found himself on the Top-40 country singles chart twice during that '79/'80 time frame.

Jack Greene remained a vital part of the Grand Ole Opry, having joined in 1967, and lasting through his retirement in 2011 some 44 years later.

Jack Greene's Top-10 singles are as follows:

1966: There Goes My Everything - hit #1 the last week of 1966 and remained at the top for six more weeks through January the following year.
1967: All The Time - hit #1
1967: What Locks the Door - Top 5
1968: You Are My Treasure - hit #1
1968: Love Takes Care of Me - Top 5
1969: Until My Dreams Come True - hit #1 for 2 weeks
1969: Statue of a Fool - hit #1
1969: Back in the Arms of Love - Top 5
1970: Wish I Didn't Have to Miss You (with Jeannie Seeley) - Top 5

**Between 1970 and 1973 Jack placed 7 singles in the country Top-20 before returning to the Top-10 a final time.**

1973: I Need Somebody Bad - Top 5 Canada

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