by Adam Gold
Late legendary songwriter Hank Cochran, ivory ticklin’ country soul crooner Ronnie Milsap and golden-voiced bluegrass journeyman Mac Wiseman are the 2014 inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Country Music Association announced at a press conference the Hall hosted in Nashville this morning.
Wait … Hank Cochran wasn’t already in the Country Music Hall of Fame?! Astounding, seeing as how the late singer-songwriter — who perished in 2010 — penned classic weepers for George Jones, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, George Strait, Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, Elvis Presley, Linda Rondstadt and others. Such gems include “I Fall to Pieces,” “The Chair,” “She’s Got You,” “It’s Not Love (But It’s Not Bad)” and “Don’t Touch Me” — a song made famous by Cochran’s fourth (and penultimate) wife, Jeannie Seely.
Though he's entering the hall under the “Songwriter” category, as a recording artist, Cochran himself cut early ’60s Top 40 country singles such as of “Sally Was a Good Old Girl” and “I’d Fight the World.” In 2012, contemporary trad-country torch-carrier Jamey Johnson called on duet partners the likes of Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, George Strait, Willie Nelson and 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Bare for the Cochran tribute album Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran.
In 1989, Ronnie Milsap had a No. 1 hit with the Cochran-penned “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurtin’ Me” (previously a chart-topper for Ray Price in 1965). Perhaps the biggest name of the three inductees, the 71-year-old piano man Milsap — the Billy Joel of the urban country movement — ruled the country charts during the ’70s and ’80s, racking up 40 No. 1s, including “Pure Love,” “(I’d Be) A Legend in My Time,” “Nobody Likes Sad Songs,” “There’s No Gettin’ Over Me” and “Still Losing You.” The hall is inducting Milsap in the “Modern Era Artist” category.
Known for his buttery tenor, the 88-year-old Mac Wiseman, who the hall is inducting in the “Veteran Era” category, is one of the most revered voices in bluegrass, having laid down his pipes on recordings by Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, The Osborne Brothers and Molly O’Day over a 45-year-and-counting career. Along the way, he also shared stage and studio time with Uncle Dave Macon, Buddy Starcher, Eddie Adcock and others. Among his most notable singles are “Jimmy Brown the Newsboy,” “Your Best Friend and Me,” “Johnny’s Cash and Charley’s Pride” and a bluegrass take on “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” that cracked the country Top 10 in 1955.
Cochran, Milsap and Wiseman will be officially inducted to the hall — which celebrated the grand opening of its newly expanded $100 million, 210,000-square-foot downtown facility — at an invite-only medallion ceremony later this year.