The Oak Ridge Boys, the Browns and Grady Martin Officially Inducted Into the Country Music Hall of Fame
Grady Martin, Jim Ed Brown and the Browns and the Oak Ridge Boys were all officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame during a special ceremony held on Sunday night (Oct. 25) in Nashville.
Brenda Lee evoked both laughter and tears as she spoke fondly of Martin, who passed away in 2001.
"I started recording with Grady when I was 10 years old, along with Owen Bradley," Lee recalled. "Grady meant the world to me, and he played on every one of my hits; he played on just about everything I ever did. There were many times I wouldn’t go into the studio unless he was the leader, and Owen was not happy. But I held my guns, and I kept my Grady.
"Grady Martin is in the songs we write and the records we make," Lee said. "He’s in the air that we breathe here. He’s in the cranes that we see around town, building skyscrapers, because people want to live and work here, and they want to make music here, and he’s a big part of that reason."
Martin's son, Joshua Martin, accepted the induction medallion on his father's behalf.
"I’m not the kind of guy who enjoys the spotlight. It’s something me and Dad had in common," he quipped. "I really think tonight would be different. I know he’d want to be with us, because this is the highest honor you can achieve in country music. This is it ...
The younger Martin also encouraged the audience with what he imagined his father would say if he was still alive.
"If he were here, I think I know what he would do. I've got a good idea of what he might do," he said. "He’d tell you all about Jesus and how your walk with God is the most important thing in this life. That’s the best thing that he taught me -- better than all that guitar stuff. Whenever you don’t know where to go or what to do, just open up your Bible ...
"In my opinion, he’s the greatest guitar player who ever lived," Martin concluded. "I’ve always wanted to be just like him."
Jim Ed Brown, who passed away in June, received his medal and was officially inducted into the Hall of Fame while he was in the hospital, but on Sunday evening, Bobby Bare inducted sisters Maxine and Bonnie Brown, as well as their award-winning trio.
"Chet [Atkins] told me they were the greatest sibling harmony that he had ever heard in his life. And that means a lot, because Chet produced the Everly Brothers," Bare shared. "I know Chet would be smiling today, and Jim Ed would be smiling today. I’m sure he is somewhere."
"We have waited forever for this," Bonnie Brown said. "We performed at the very first banquet when it was being organized. That was in 1960."
Added Maxine Brown, "It means more to me than anything in the world, because I have really worked hard at it ... I’d like to think Chet Atkins -- we wouldn’t have had so many good songs if it hadn’t been for Chet Atkins. Best producer that ever was, bar none."
Kenny Rogers was on hand to induct his good friends, the Oak Ridge Boys.
"My dad told me once when I was young, he said, ‘Son, the best advice I can give you is be friendly to all but friends with a few,’ and I chose the Oak Ridge Boys to be friends with. He said, ‘Friendship doesn’t come without strings. You have to be ready to do what your friends ask, and they will be ready for you, if they’re good friends,'" Rogers recounted. "You guys have been that for me. I have to tell you, I am so, so proud of you, and so happy to be the one to induct you into the Hall of Fame."
"In a lifetime and in a career of incredible things, this is the most incredible thing that’s ever happened to the Oak Ridge Boys," Oaks' member Joe Bonsall said. "All the water under a lot of bridges, a lot of songs, a lot of miles together. And it’s always the four of us. We’re together. We’ve always been together. We travel on the same bus. We don’t ride in separate buses. It’s us.
"Family’s been what’s been most important," he added. "We’ve tried to run our group that way, as a family, doing things right. Trying to be honest all the time, like our parents taught us. Treat people right. I really think that’s why we’re here today."
In addition to Lee, Bare and Rogers' inductions, several stars turned out to offer musical tributes to this year's inductees. Vince Gill and Marty Stuart joined forces on Martin's "El Paso," while Dierks Bentley performed Brown's "Pop a Top." The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Jeff Hanna stepped in to perform the Oak Ridge Boys' "Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight" after Chris Stapleton and his wife Morgane were unable to make it to the ceremony, due to the flooding in Texas, and Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood sang the Oaks' "I'll Be True to You."
"I feel like anybody else: I’m just a fan," Bentley told The Boot and other reporters on the red carpet prior to the ceremony. "I love the Oaks. Grady Martin is one of those great guitar players ... He was awesome. Jim Ed Brown was somebody who always took us under his wing when we played the Opry, always there. Made us feel good. Made us feel warm and welcome. Funny guy. Great stories he’d share backstage."
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