Jack Greene: The 1960’s ‘Garth Brooks’
Sometimes writing a blog like this is difficult. When I am close to a subject, especially a person, it’s tough to convey how truly important they are. That’s my problem here.
Jack Greene, the Opry and Country Music legend, that passed away this week, was more than just another old time singer. He was to the 1960’s what Garth Brooks was to the 1990’s. Really. And he was more than just a list of accomplishments in an obituary.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jack a couple of times while working on a classic country station. He was a gentleman, funny and loved singing for the fans. His voice didn’t waiver a lick as he aged. It was still that rich, pure, sound with a touch of ache to it. And did he have some amazing stories to tell! He is one of the reasons I love Country music.
Jack’s two biggest hits, There Goes My Everything and Statue of a Fool, were so big that countless artists covered them over the years. And if you ask today’s artist, they will undoubtedly name Jack as an influence.
I’ll never forget when he told me about the infancy of the CMA. He had a hand in building it to become the most important organisation and awards show in Country. It was very special to him that in the pinnacle of his work with it, the CMA Awards was launched in 1967.
That was the year of There Goes My Everything launching him. The awards weren’t televised in 1967 (they began humbly). But there he was at the end of the night holding awards for Single of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Male Vocalist of the Year. Think about that in today’s measure. that would be like Kenny Chesney walking away with all those awards! Holy cow!
And amazingly, as Jack Greene was building his career, he was still the drummer for Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours. Now, Ernest was to Country back then what George Strait is to us now. Ernest gave his blessing for Jack to pursue a solo career. Jack’s final top 30 hit came in 1980. That’s what I said. 1980!
Throughout the years, Jack toured, as many of the Opry legends do, by playing intimate venues. He continued building a fan base until he retired in 2011. I remember, at one of these shows he played for our station, teenagers being blown away by the performance. They went up to Jack after the show and he happily shared stories and advice.
That was the thing about Jack, and actually all the legends that perform today; they were/are very accessible. No “meet and greet” pass needed. There was nothing separating him, his fans and the music.
My point to all of this is, we didn’t lose just another legend to age, we lost another link to the passion that helped build Country music We lost a man that deserved to be called a star.
Honor Thy Country Music.