Thursday, 15 December 2022 01:44


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This week we will take a look at The Influencers Part 2.  In the 42 years I've continuously been in Country Radio, I feel these artists are among the most influential in one way or another, each in their own way.  They paved the road for the sound, shows, styles and images of the next generation and for today.  Keep in mind this list is from about 1980 forward.  This is how we got where we are today. This is Part 2   -  (Part 1 Click Here)

No order.....

Alabama  (Full Profile)

When Alabama showed up in 1979, everything began to change in country. They were the start of a complete and total overhaul that began with their arrival and culminated in 1989 when the real surge came and the boom of the 1990's. Alabama looked like the new listeners we were looking for. Young and cool and not at all what was the the style of the time.  But the really big thing they heavily influenced was the country "band."  They were really the first and only for quite a while, but in time others came and had great success, although not "Alabama" success. Their music was great, so was their image and they gave confidence to other country bands out there in the shadows that they could make it too in a world of solo artists.   Alabama dominated the 1980's like no one had ever before.


The Judds   (Full Profile)

This duo was as different as anything we could have imagined in the early 1980's when they came to prominence.  A stylish mother-daughter act that was based in acoustic country with beyond slick harmonies and a treasure trove of great songs.  Their absolute difference was their strength.  They were the most unique act at the time and gave rise to other similar acts like Sweethearts Of The Rodeo, The Whites, and The Forester Sisters.  But no one could touch The  Judds.  I feel they were as big of an inspiration to many young women singers that dreamed about being a country star as anyone.  They were universally loved and their following was enviable in and out of country.


Dwight Yoakam  (Full Profile)

When you help save a genre of music, you make the list. Yoakam came along about the same time as Randy Travis and together sent country on a new direction that made it thrive. Yoakam was the predecessor to Garth in helping reinvent the country stage show. His very cool music was enhanced even more by his new and inventive way on stage when he showed up in 1986.  His style too was new and copied by many.  Yoakam is one of the real spokespersons for acts in country that are so newly unique at the time that fans gravitate to them and other artists wonder why they did do it first. Yoakam was an original and that's darn rare. He really put the movement into the stage show and turned the "cool" meter on high.


Tanya Tucker   (Full Profile)

Her amazingly distinct voice is not easy to imitate, so no one ever did.  As a kid you could hear she was gifted, and as an adult it just got better.  In the late 70's with her controversial album cover, TNT, she single-handedly ended the huge floor length dresses, bouffant and beehive hair, and general stuffiness that had been the style for women in country, and she loosened up the men too.  Her leather pants album pic was loved by many and hated by same, as it was way outside the norm at that moment.  BUT in one swoop, we never went back to the old style, even though some hung on to it for a while.  Suddenly we were younger, cooler, and different.  She deserves a lot of the credit for this.  From that point on the styles were tight jeans and more flattering dresses for women and wardrobes in general for men were not rhinestone leisure suits and polyester pants.  She also was the champion of second chances, reinventing herself a few times very successfully and inspiring others not to give up on their dreams.  Very powerful artist and person.


Brantley Gilbert

This one may surprise many, as he is still a very current artist.  BUT it was the song, the sound of THAT song that turned a lot of heads and woke others up.  His anthem, Country Must Be Country Wide was a very influential song when it first came out.  Influential like the Hank Jr song he references.  Many of today's artists heard his song, pointed to the radio and thought, "I want to do THAT!"  It was an anthem, it was honest, it was hard core country, it was southern rock. It was many, many strong things wrapped up in one slick package that pointed where we were going, while bridging from - but not disrespecting where we had been - and solidified where we were.  It was a turning point for many and some could not keep up and others were inspired to find that kind of song of their own.  They are tough to find. 


Barbara Mandrell   (Full Profile)

It's not often that someone can do it all, but she could. BM had an amazing musical career, with tons of hit songs. She was an actress, a musician that skillfully played a dozen instruments. She was a TV star with her own network TV show.  And she was a real game changer as far as live entertaining was concerned. Her concerts were incredible, with high energy and a fast pace. Very different than most females at the time. Barbara Mandrell overall may be the most talented person we have ever had in country. That doesn't mean the "best".  It means what it means, her extreme musical talent is legendary, and she was an incredible inspiration for many to chase a new dream and to be a star.  The incredible Barbara Mandrell.


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