(Provided by Sheila and Bob Everhart)
When the National Traditional Country Music
Association was formed in 1976, it was not their
intent to become the hosts of "America's Old Time
Country Music Hall of Fame." Time said different.
Today, the Hall of Fame, located in the Pioneer Music
Museum in Anita, Iowa, has over 2,500 artifacts
relating to early country/bluegrass/folk music, and
all the root music art forms that these styles came
Inductions into the Hall of Fame have been going
on since 1979, the very first one, was a fiddler from
Omaha, Nebraska, Laurier Birginal. He was a Canadian
immigrant who came to America to open a butcher shop.
He was also an astonishingly good fiddler, and had a
likable personality that people were attracted to. He
soon became "the" fiddler in the Omaha area, and was
responsible in part, for the creation of the museum.
More inductions followed, the rules were simple.
You had to be a member of the Hall of Fame to make a
nomination, and you could only make one. Over the
years, the ceremony that honors the famous and the not
so famous, takes place as a last-day climax to a large
festival the NTCMA hosts, to pay the upkeep and
operating expenses of the Hall of Fame. The festival
this year is at the Harrison County Fairgrounds, in
Missouri Valley, Iowa, August 25-31.
There are usually about 35 inductions each year,
and stays relatively the same. After a number of
years of local and regional inductions, the process
has slowly risen from the not-so-famous, to the
famous. Still, those that have made a significant
contribution to the furtherment of traditional country
music, are honored, bigtime, just like the famous.
Recognizable names on this year's roster include:
- Moe Bandy
(he now has a theater in Branson, Missouri);
- Michael T Wall
(a promoter and performer from
- Floyd Tillman
(a songwriter who penned
- Slim Whitman
(one of the most
famous yodelers of all time noted for the 'Indian Love
- Jett Williams
(daughter of Hank Williams Sr.
Both she and her father will be inducted this year);
- Ferlin Husky
(a popular Grand Ole Opry performer with
- Chester Smith
(close friend of Merle
Haggard, recently revived his recording career after
retiring from his broadcast media empire in
- Elsie McWilliams
(the songwriter that
gave Jimmie Rodgers his many hits);
- Sullivan Family
(from Mississippi, nominated by Charlie Louvin);
- Vernon Oxford
(longtime traditional country singer and
recording artist from Nashville, Tenn.);
- Glaser Brothers
(started their musical career as boys in
- Lee Oskar
(manufacturer of harmonicas);
- Lonzo & Oscar
(the rejuvenated act under the auspices
of Billy Henson);
- Leroy Van Dyke
(the 'Auctioneer Song'
is his biggest hit);
- Jimmy and Dick, The Novelty Boys
super act from Arizona who did live radio shows).
The roster also includes a number of inductees on
a local and regional level. All inductees are asked
to provide something for the Hall of Fame from their
musical past. According to the museum curator, Bob
Everhart, "It's amazing how old-time fiddlers will
give up their most priceless possession after they
become to old and stiff to play anymore, but they know
it's going to be placed on display, and many will see
and recognize the contribution the old-time fiddler
made. It's the same with a lot of the celebrities in
"America's Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame."
Some of the past inductees were personally
present when the honor was bestowed upon them.
- CHARLIE LOUVIN - His Harmony guitar and a suit he
wore on the Grand Ole Opry is in the Hall of Fame.
- WOODY GUTHRIE - Guthrie's widow Marjorie, came to
the festival and brought one of his old guitars.
- TERRY SMITH - The composer of "Far Side Banks of
Jordan" donated his favorite pipe and cowboy boots.
- JOE BABCOCK - The compsoer of "Muddy Waters" and
member of Hee Haw gave one of his performance shirts.
- CLAUDE GRAY - The recording artist of "The Family
Bible" has a Decca guitar next to his picture.
- JOHNNY WESTERN - Composer of the theme music to
"Have Gun Will Travel" donated one of the shirts he
wore on the television show, as well as a guitar.
- ALBERT BRUMLEY JR - Son of the famous songwriter
Albert Brumley, a complete collection of the Brumley
songbooks are on display in the Hall of Fame.
- SPADE COOLEY - Famous western swing band leader
from California. His rhythm guitar players Gretsch is
- TOM SWATZELL - Known as the "King" of the Dobro,
one of his famous guitars is in the Hall of Fame.
- ERNEST TUBB - Along with a large collection of
78rpm records is the lap steel played by Billie Byrd.
- MARVIN RAINWATER - Photos, records and guitar.
- JIMMY MARTIN - Phots, LP's and one of his
earliest guitars which he autographed.
- ROY ACUFF - Autographs of all his band members,
and himself, along with the powder blue jacket he wore
on the Grand Ole Opry, and a fiddle his brother
Charley dontated to the Hall of Fame.
- JOHNNY CASH - Autographed photographs, old LPs
and two of the harmonicas he used in concert playing
the Orange Blossom Special.
- JUNE CARTER CASH - Photos of her and the early
Carter Family, and her autoharp fingerpicks.
- HAPPY VALLEY JUNE CAMPBELL - Popular live radio
star on KFNF radio Shenandoah. We have her guitar and
her husband Jerry's fiddle.
- SONNY RODGERS - The last living relative of
Jimmie Rodgers. We have his Gibson 12-string.
- BOB WILLS - When Tom & Nancy Wills were inducted
they brought a fiddle Bob had played on.
- BRADLEY KINCAID - The first to use his radio show
to sell products, we have one of his original Hound
Dog guitars, as well as his popular song book.
The list goes on and on. The people who have
made country music famous all deserve honor and
respect. So too, do those that are not so famous. The
ones that promote the music, provide a safe haven for
it to be performed, that play it on the radio and
"America's Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame"
is located in Anita, Iowa, across the stree from the
Oak Tree Opry. Bob Everhart, the curator, has been
asked a number of times why he doesn't move it to
Nashville or Branson, so more people could see it.
Hes response, "We are about country music. We are in
the country not the city. Our air is clean, our water
is pure, our lakes and rivers are still unpolluted.
The original forms of country music still thrive in
the country. We are proud of hillbilly music,
mountain music, bluegrass music, all forms of the
original country music that meant so much to so many
people. We intend to keep thriving!"
More information about the Hall of Fame, and the
festival that supports it is available from:
P.O. Box 492
Telephone: (712) 762-4363