The saying, "That ain't country" is not new. It's been going on the 43 years I've been in country radio. Sometimes it's up for debate. This week and next I'll feature artists that got a fair amount of play on country radio at one time, and we can decide if they were or were not. We needed real star power back then, and these artists helped supply it to give us a bit more street cred with young fans that we had a hard time attracting. But these fringe acts were incredibly influential to our future stars. Four part series - ICYMI - (Part 1) (Part 2)
He is a very interesting artist as far as country is concerned. There is no doubt that All Summer Long (#8 Country) is very popular with our fans, and Picture (#21 Country) was a highly requested song years ago as well. He has always had a soft spot with our listeners and has played in the arena with other contemporary country stars. When he comes to concert locally, we give away tickets and fans are thrilled to win them. Many, not all country fans have a real liking for him. Clearly, much of his music is far, far outside our scope, but some seems to fit in. In the end, more than likely a no, but he certainly has fans who are loyal to him - and to us.
Olivia Newton-John (My Full Profile On Her)
I featured her a while ago in an article and it was very popular. The late Olivia Newton-John at first was very country, but as time went on, she graduated to pop. Let Me Be There was a Grammy Award winning Country single. She also charted a lot of country songs after that, Please Mister Please, If You Love Me (Let Me Know) and others were all big songs. I think everyone remembers Physical, which was far removed from her country days. She sort of did what Taylor Swift did. She established with country, and as she grew up and her tastes, and career path changed, so did her music. She early on was an award winning artist with us and we were glad to have her. But like Taylor, after Olivia left us, we still all cheered for her and as she grew, we grew with her music. I loved her country stuff, and a lot of her pop stuff. Magic is one of my favorite older pop songs as it was perfect for her at that time. In the end, she was and then she wasn't, but she was always popular with most everyone that ever heard her sing. There was much done, before Grease.
James Taylor in many ways punched the same ticket to some country radio play as Gordon Lightfoot. Taylor, especially early on had that nice, simple, acoustic sound that was easy to listen to that blended in well with much of the pop country. Fire And Rain is a great example of that. So are Handyman, Mexico, and his duet with J.D. Souther, Her Town Too. Taylor was also very easy to like. He had huge mass appeal and his voice was really not format specific. Clearly, much of this stuff was not conducive for us, but some was, and to say the name James Taylor on the air, gave us real cred. Should be noted, he never charted on the US Country Charts, except Everyday later on - which did, (Written by Buddy Holly) but many of our fans loved his music and still do. In the end, in sound at times yes, but overall -great music- but not so sure.