What ever happened to these ’70s country music legends?

begin >>

Country music is the most popular genre of music in the United States today. The music has a whole wealth of genres within it, from Rhinestone Country to Bluegrass, Outlaw country to even pop country, most people in the United States have a favorite sub-genre or country music musician.


ADVERTISEMENT

But before the 1970s, country music was completely different. The style of music was a derivative of Appalachian bluegrass and southern folk music. These different styles of music were pretty geographically isolated for much of the history of the United States. Appalachia in particular is known for its remoteness, while the south was quite its own entity up until the end of the United States Civil War.

However, once the Great Depression coupled with the Dust Bowl hit and farmland turned essentially into an apocalyptic wasteland, people from rural areas all over the country started coming into the cities looking for work. And with them they brought all their different styles of music. Even Hawaiian slack key guitar made it to these cities.

Cities such as Nashville, Houston, and New Orleans saw an influx of these climate refugees who all had musical talents. Eventually, these musical talents from different cultures and different parts of the United States all ended up influencing each other. Couple that with the ability to record and disseminate music cheaper and easier than ever before, and you have the makings of a new, all American genre.

However, country music really did not come into its own until the 1970s. The genre was helped along by famous household names such as Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Loretta Lynn to become the musical sensation it is today.

We wanted to know what had happened to these greats and where they are today, along with look at the musical legacy these all American men and women left behind. For instance, did you know that…

begin >>


Johnny Cash – Then

Cash was already a musical force by the time the 1970’s rolled around. He began hosting an extraordinarily popular music show, and became friends with every US president from Richard Nixon to Jimmy Carter.

Johnny Cash – Now

While Cash passed away in 2003 at the age of 71 – four months after his wife June – the man is known for his charity work with SOS villages, helping to bring up a whole host of musical talent, and for touring until his body literally couldn’t take it anymore.

David Allen Coe – Then

Coe started out his long career in outlaw country with his record “Penitentiary Blues.” Although he didn’t make it big mainstream during the 1970’s, he had an underground cult following which enabled him to become a mainstream star with his hit “You Never Even Called Me by My Name.”

David Allen Coe – Now

Coe has continued to write, with a New York Times reported calling one of his later albums one of the most “misogynistic and racist albums he had ever heard.” He continued to perform and is at the forefront of a new genre called “country metal.”

Lynn Anderson – Then

Revolutionizing country music with her country/pop hit (I never promised you a) Rose Garden, Anderson became the first female country artist to receive the American Music Award, along with the Record World Artist of the Decade for the 1970’s.

Lynn Anderson – Now

Before her death due to a heart attack in 2015 at the age of 67, Anderson continued to produce and create music, performing at the Grand Ole Opry and the CMA’s, along with touring solo. She also found time to be a champion horsewoman!

Moe Bandy – Then

Busting out onto the music scene with his honky tonk style music, his first hit was “Bandy the Rodeo Clown.” He went on to become one of the most popular country songs of the decade, but only got his first chart topper with “I Cheated Me Right Out of You.”

Moe Bandy – Now

Bandy has since moved to Branson, MO where he has opened up a theatre called the Americana Theatre, where him and other country stars regularly perform. On top of this, he is a champion bull rider, having been inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2007!

Glen Campbell – Then

Glen Campbell was already a star when he began hosting his popular music show “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.” Once the show was cancelled, he went back to the studio, recording hits such as “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights.”

Glen Campbell – Now

Campbell is still going strong at 80 years old, continuing to record music. He has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and was even nominated for the Best Original Song in the 87th Academy Awards.

June Cash – Then

June’s success is closely tied to that of her husband Johnny, writing many songs, and performing in duets with him both in studio and in concert. Although she only released one solo album, she is the inspiration behind many of her husband’s and family’s success.

June Cash – Now

June Cash continued to make music up until her death in 2003 at 73 years old following complications due to heart valve surgery. She recorded two more solo albums, and ended up winning three Grammy awards.

John Conlee – Then

Conlee made it onto the Billboard charts with his hit single “Rose Colored Glasses” in 1978, releasing two more hits later that same year. He continued performing hits, with “Before My Time” and “Baby, You’re Something” both getting top 10 slots on Billboard.

John Conlee – Now

Conlee performs at the Grand Ole Opry which he has been a member of since 1982. Meanwhile, he continues to record music and push out records, his latest being a greatest hits album released in 2015.

Mac Davis – Then

After being a writer for Elvis Presley, Davis came hard out of the gate with his country/pop hit “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me,” which sold over one million copies. He even won the Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year in 1974.

Mac Davis – Now

Davis continues to be a household name, having performed at Ronald Reagan’s inauguration gala in 1985, to having a mildly successful acting career. He has a star on Hollywood Boulevard, and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000.

Jimmy Dean – Then

While he made a name for himself in the 1960’s, Jimmy Dean was still wowing country music listeners, with his duet “Slowly” with Dottie West, and his song I.O.U. – tribute song to mothers everywhere which has been re-released three times.

Jimmy Dean – Now

Although Dean died in 2010 at the age of 81, he left behind a strong legacy, including the Jimmy Dean Sausage empire. He was interred in a giant piano shaped mausoleum on his family’s property upon which is written “Here Lies One Hell of a Man.”

John Denver – Then

Singer of the 1971 mega-hit “Take Me Home Country Roads,” the musician’s success continued with a string of four number one singles, culminating in Denver winning the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award in 1975.

John Denver – Now

Denver died tragically in 1997 at the age of 53, when an experimental aircraft he was flying crashed into the ocean. Before his death, Denver became a promoter of NASA and America’s work in outer space, receiving the NASA Public Service Medal.

Merle Haggard – Then

Merle was already a country music legend by the time he was printed on the cover of Time Magazine in 1974, and between 1973-1976, Haggard was able to produce no less than nine chart toppers such as “Always Wanting You,” “Someday We’ll Look Back,” “The Roots of My Raising” and “Grandma Harp.”

Merle Haggard – Now

Haggard died in 2016 following complications from pneumonia, but not before winning a plethora of awards, including the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor, along with influencing nearly all of modern country music.

George Jones – Then

Despite struggling with alcoholism throughout much of the 1970’s, Jones still scored number one hits with songs The Grand Tour” and “The Door.” However, his alcoholism was so bad that he once drove a riding mower to a liquor store eight miles away!

George Jones – Now

Although he died at the age of 81 in 2013, his impact on country music could be seen not only by all the awards he won in life, but also by who came to pay their respects at his funeral, including today’s top country music stars, Governor Mark Huckabee, and even Former First Lady Laura Bush.

Loretta Lynn – Then

Country singer Loretta Lynn is perhaps best known for her controversial hits “The Pill,” “One’s on the Way,” and “Dear Uncle Sam.” Despite music stations refusing to play her songs, she became one of the most legendary artists of the genre.

Loretta Lynn – Now

Lynn has won a bunch of awards, including being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and even getting awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2013. She still performs at the Grand Ole Opry.

Ronnie Milsap – Then

This first ever blind country music star, Milsap broke into the Billboard charts in 1971 with his single “”I Hate You.” He kept pumping out hits, including putting out nine number one singles in a row, including “(I’m a) Stand by My Woman Man” and “What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life.”

Ronnie Milsap – Now

Milsap is still pumping out records, but hasn’t performed solo since 2014. However, he was chosen to cover some of country music’s greatest hits for the 50th Country Music Awards ceremony in 2016.

Louise Mandrell – Then

Younger sister of country great Barbara Mandrell, Louis broke out onto the country music scene with her 1978 single “Put It On Me,” following soon after with “Everlasting Love,” and seeing her star truly rise in the 1980s.

Louise Mandrell – Now

Her personal life was full of turbulence, having gotten married four times, However, she is now a grandmother whose grandchildren can watch perform at musical venues all over the country. She is also a spokesperson for Sanderson Farms.

Barbara Mandrell – Then

Mandrell started out strong in the 1970s, with her first chart topper “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed” hitting number one in 1978 with her hit “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right” following close behind.

Barbara Mandrell – Now

Mandrell was a rising star until September 1984, when she was involved in a car crash and was severely injured. After her long recovery she returned to music and also became a seat belt advocate. She has since won a multitude of awards, ranging from being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012, to being chosen to be on People Magazine’s “100 Most Beautiful at any age” list.

Willie Nelson – Then

Putting his own spin on country, Nelson incorporated his songs with Jazz and folk, and created “outlaw country.” He ended up recording an album called “The Sound In Your Mind” which ended up becoming the first platinum country album ever.

Willie Nelson – Now

Nelson, who is still touring, lives in Maui. The heat on the tropical island forced him to cut off his signature braids, selling them for $35,000. He has received numerous awards, including the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998 the lifetime achievement award of the Library of Congress.

Marie Osmond – Then

Although only signing on with the rest of her family’s singing group in 1970, this go getter started releasing her own singles, with her first chart topper Paper Roses capturing American hearts in 1973.

Marie Osmond – Now

Marie has had continued success due to her business acumen, and has become a wildly successful author, actress, and even doll creator! She is also a philanthropist, helping to found the Children’s Miracle Network.

Ray Price – Then

This former US Marine was one of the creators of honky tonk country in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and scored three number one hits throughout the 1970’s: I Won’t Mention It Again”, “She’s Got To Be A Saint”, and “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me.”

Ray Price – Now

This country great was writing music and performing almost until the day he died, producing a wildly successful record with Willie Nelson and Merl Haggard called “Last of the Breed.” Price died in 2013 after a long battle with cancer.

Hank Williams Jr. – Then

Son of country music legend Hank Williams Sr., Hank Williams Jr. started his career to a slow start in the 1970’s. However, starting in 1979, Williams Jr. would go on to create more than 22 albums.

Hank Williams Jr. – Now

Hank Williams Jr. has continued to play and produce music, but courted controversy over statements made regarding President Barack Obama in a 2011 interview. He is a known political activist, penning songs in support of Republican US Presidential nominees.

Anne Murray – Then

This Canadian star made it big in the states with her hit single “Snowbird” in 1970, writing and performing songs which would send her to the US Billboard top ten multiple times.

Anne Murray – Now

Murray has opened a museum in her honor in her hometown in Nova Scotia, and even received Canada’s second highest honor; the Companion of the Order of Canada . She continues to release music, and was even a torch bearer at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

Dottie West – Then

Springing off her success as a duet star from the 1960’s, Dottie West didn’t see much success in the 1970’s until she released a song called “Country Sunshine” for Coca Cola. She was awarded the title of No. 1 Female Songwriter in the USA by Billboard in 1974.

Dottie West – Now

West died due to injuries sustained during a car accident, but has been honored multiple time posthumously, being ranked No. 23 in Country Music Television’s 40 Greatest Women of Country Music in 2002, amongst other awards.

Tanya Tucker – Then

Becoming a teen country star with her hit single Delta Dawn in 1972, Tucker continued producing hits, including chart toppers such as “Blood Red and Goin’ Down,” “Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone)” and “Lizzie and the Rainman.”

Tanya Tucker – Now

Tanya Tucker never stopped after her successes in the 1970’s, and continues to tour to this day, and continues to win awards such as being ranked number 20 on CMT’s 40 Greatest Women of Country Music.

Waylon Jennings – Then

Waylon Jennings seems to have performed with every single country music star of his day including Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. He won CMA Male Vocalist of the Year in 1975, and CMA Single of the Year with Willie Nelson for “Good-Hearted Woman” in 1976 amongst other awards.

Waylon Jennings – Now

Jennings died in 2002 following complications brought on by diabetes, but not before recording his final album “Never Say Die: Live” in Nashville. His style influenced and continues to influence country music to this day.

Emmylou Harris – Then

Emmylou broke out on her own in 1975, and by 1976 had already won the Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her album Elite Hotel. She continued making hits, and went on to sing with some of country’s biggest stars.

Emmylou Harris – Now

Harris continues to perform and write music, collaborating with Rodney Crowell on an album called The Traveling Kind, which earned the pair an Americana Music Award for Duo/Group of the year. They also received two Grammy nominations for the record.

The Allman Brothers – Then

The Allman Brothers obtained a cult following and in 1973 released their first chart topping album “Brothers and Sisters” along with their number one single “Ramblin’ Man,” thereby becoming the most popular band in the country.

The Allman Brothers – Now

Due to their overwhelming success, they opened up the southern rock genre to more artists, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Marshall Tucker Band, along with being what many have termed the first jam rock band in history.

Linda Rondstadt – Then

Linda Rondstadt has had a long and storied career, winning two Grammys in the 1970’s including for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You), along with being nominated for five others in that decade alone.

Linda Rondstadt – Now

Rondstadt has since become a political activist, and has since performed with people such as Bruce Springsteen and The Eagles. She announced in 2011 that she has Parkinsons, and is no longer able to sing.

Pure Prairie League – Then

Beginning their music career in Cincinnati, Ohio, they became a household name with their first hit “Amie.” By the time they released their third album Two Lane Highway, they had country greats like Emmylou Harris and The Eagles performing with them.

Pure Prairie League – Now

After breaking up for a time, Pure Prairie League continues to tour, playing several shows every year. They also came out with their most recent album “All In Good Time” in 2005.

Kris Kristofferson – Then

A Captain in the US Army and a Rhodes Scholar who studied at Oxford, Kris Kristofferson eventually moved to Nashville to begin his country music career, putting out hits such as “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “For the Good Times”, “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” and “Me and Bobby McGee.

Kris Kristofferson – Now

Kristofferson is still writing music, having released his latest album, “The Cedar Creek Sessions” in 2016. The Album won a Grammy later that year. He has also voiced video game characters, such as the character Chief Hanlon in the 2010 video game Fallout: New Vegas.

Lucinda Williams – Then

Grammy award winner Lucinda Williams started her career in 1978, but took her time between albums. Despite being a critically acclaimed musicians, many country stars, including starlett Emmylou Harris believe that she wasn’t exactly country enough. However, with fans such as Tom Petty falling in love with her music, the criticism doesn’t seem to matter.

Lucinda Williams – Now

Williams has kept going, releasing a total of 11 studio albums, and appearing on various talk shows such as The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. She also continues to tour, with her last tour wrapping up in 2013, and potential new dates coming out soon.

Amy Grant – Then

Known as the Queen of Christian Rock, Amy Grant is a jack of all trades being a singer, songwriter, media personality, musician, actress, and author. She has won six Grammy awards with hit singles such as “Angels,” “Father’s Eyes”, and “El Shaddai,” all of which she recorded in the 1980’s when she was only a teenager!

Amy Grant – Now

Amazingly enough, her songs have been remixed by various DJs, remixes which have been played at big house clubs and have gone on to win her critical acclaim. However, she has been generating controversy for being too “worldly” and too “sexy” by many Evangelicals.

Charley Pride – Then

Charley Pride helped keep RCA records afloat by becoming the biggest name they had after Elvis Presley in the 1970’s, with hit singles such as “Just Between You and Me,” “I Can’t Believe That You’ve Stopped Loving Me,” and “Kiss an Angel Good Morning.” He ended up winning a Grammy, and had his Album go gold.

Charley Pride – Now

The story of Charley Pride is unique, and filmmakers are working on a biographical film of his life which is to star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He still continues to make appearances, singing the National Anthem at a Grizzlies game recently. His performances are all the more remarkable considering he had a tumor removed from his right vocal cord in 1997.

Kitty Wells – Then

Kitty Wells paved the way for women to enter into mainstream music with her smash hit “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” In fact, she ranks as the sixth most successful female country music singer in history, according to Billboard, and became the third country music star to receive a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kitty Wells – Now

Kitty tragically died due to complications following a stroke in 2012 at the age of 92. However, the song which made her famous in the 1950’s was added to the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress, and even found time to run a country music radio station for two decades in Madison, Wisconsin!

Bob Dylan – Then

Bob Dylan is considered perhaps one of the most well known singer songwriters in Musical history, getting his start with the country music group The Band, which released singles such as “The Weight” and “The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down,” among others. Dylan would split off from the group, launching a solo career which drew a cult like following.

Bob Dylan – Now

Dylan’s music still hasn’t lost its appeal, with millions attending his shows all over the world to this very day. He has since won the Nobel Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, multiple Grammys, and has become one of the best selling musical artists of all time. Not bad for a kid from lil old Duluth, Minnesota!

Mel Tillis – Then

Starting off the 1970’s strong with his song “Heart Over Mind,” which peaked at No. 3 on the billboard charts, Tillis won the CMA Awards’s Entertainer of the Year, and was also inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975.

Mel Tillis – Now

Mel is sitting pretty at the ripe old age of 84, and has stopped touring. However, he remained a songwriter, writing and performing an album based on Shel Silverstein poems. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

Conway Twitty – Then

Conway Twitty recorded several hits such as “Hello Darlin”, and performed numerous duets with Loretta Lynn such as “After the Fire is Gone.” He won numerous CMA awards and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Conway Twitty – Now

Twitty became ill during a performance in Branson, Missouri in 1993. As he was leaving the venue on his tour bus, he collapsed and was sent to the hospital due to an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He died later that morning.

Sammi Smith – Then

Sammi Smith was a tough gal and was one of the only women to be able to break into the outlaw country music scene. She is best remembered for her 1970 single “Help Me Make It Through the Night”

Sammi Smith – Now

Although she became less well known for her after the 1970’s, Smith became a well known activist for Native American rights, and even formed an all Native band. Sadly, she died in her home due to complications brought on by emphysema.

Charlie Daniels – Then

Daniels is one of the undisputed kings of bluegrass. Not only was he invited to play fiddle for the Marshall Tucker Band, he also had 70’s hits such as “Uneasy Rider.” However, his most well known song, released in 1979, was “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

Charlie Daniels – Now

Daniels continues to perform and is vocal in regards to his political views. He has since been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.

Bonnie Raitt – Then

After being discovered by a Newsweek reporter while performing in New York, Raitt gained huge critical acclaim but no real hits. However, once she put out her hit remake of the classic song “Runaway” she became a household name.

Bonnie Raitt- Now

Bonnie continues to perform and even released a new record called Dig in Deep. She also had problems with alcoholism, but has since kicked the habit. Rolling stone also has her listed as number 50 in their list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.

Rodney Crowell – Then

Crowell started out his country music career as a songwriter, writing hits for country music stars such as Waylon Jennings, the Oak Ridge Boys, and Johnny Cash amongst others. He released his first solo album Ain’t Living Long Like This in 1978.

Rodney Crowell – Now

Rodney has gone on to win two Grammy awards including Best Country song with “After All This Time,” along with Best Americana Album. He continues to record, with his later record coming out in late 2017.

Eddie Rabbitt – Then

Rabbitt was relatively unknown in the country music scene until he began touring with the likes of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton in the late 1970s. He really hit the national stage with his first single “Every Which Way But Loose.”

Eddie Rabbitt – Now

Eddie sadly died of lung cancer in 1998, but not after making an incredible mark on country music. He continued to record hit singles and albums almost up until the day that he died.

Jimmy Martin – Then

Martin is known as the undisputed king of bluegrass, performing with his group Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys. He was so well known that he even toured in Japan in the 1970’s! While he was invited to perform at the Opry, he was never a part of it due to his alcoholism.

Jimmy Martin – Now

Jimmy Martin died a year after being diagnosed with bladder cancer at the age of 77. However, he made his mark on bluegrass music, having been inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor.

Don Gibson – Then

Already a star by the time the 1970’s rolled around, Gibson’s greatest hits from that time include melancholy ballads such as “There’s a Story Goin’ Round,” along with a Sue Thompson duets such as “Oh, How Love Changes.”

Don Gibson – Now

Gibson died at the age of 77 in 2003, but in 2009 a theatre was opened in his hometown of Shelby, North Carolina. The theatre has seen the likes of Pam Tillis, Ricky Skaggs, and many others grace the stage.

Jeannie Seely – Then

Seely was a recording artist in the 1960s, but took a step back and became a songwriter in the early 1970s. After seeing the success of her compositions, she decided to get back into the spotlight with a string of hits throughout the mid to late 70s.

Jeannie Seely – Now

Seely not only continues to sing, but also released a new album in 2017 called “Written In Song.” This 14 track compilation features songs which Seely either wrote or co-wrote, and was one of the most anticipated albums of the year. Not bad for a 76 years young starlet!

Reba McEntire – Then

This multitalented redhead officially launched her career in 1976, when she released her first single: “I Don’t Want to Be a One Night Stand”. Sadly, the song didn’t do too well. This little setback didn’t discourage McEntire and her producers and they continued releasing new songs and albums.

Reba McEntire – Now

Four years later, after dozens of new songs, McEntire finally reached the top 10 with her song: “You Lift Me Up (To Heaven)”. From there her journey to become a huge country success was quick. Today she’s considered to be one of the top country singers and even has her own star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

Dolly Parton – Then

While Dolly bursted onto the country music scene in the late 1960s, she really rose to prominence for her hit single Jolene which she released in 1973. She went on to write three more chart toppers that year alone.

Dolly Parton – Now

Parton is the most honored female country music star of all time, on top of being a philanthropist, actress, producer, and owner of Dollywood in her native Tennessee. She has definitely been keeping busy.

Stella Parton – Then

Bursting out of her older sister Dolly’s shadow, Stella Parson stole the show in the mid-1970’s with her breakout hit “I Want to Hold You In My Dreams Tonight.” She also found time to do TV shows, starring in several episodes of the Dukes of Hazard as police impersonator “Mary Beth.”

Stella Parton – Now

Stella currently lives and works in Kentucky where she works with battered women, teaching them how to do hair and makeup at the New Opportunity School for Women. She is also a national spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) as well as the Christian Appalachian Project.

Faron Young – Then

Known as the “Hillbilly Heartthrob,” Young was a hit singer songwriter, writing hits such as “If You Ain’t Lovin’ (You Ain’t Livin’)” and “Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young.” He has a successful career which stretched from the early 1950’s all the way to the mid 1980’s.

Faron Young – Now

After battling alcoholism for years, and with the deep rooted feeling that the music industry didn’t want him around anymore, Young took his own life in 1996. His family snuck onto the Johnny and June Cash estate to spread his ashes while the couple weren’t home.

Sonny James – Then

With an illustrious career starting in the 1950’s, Sonny James had 72 singles, including 1971’s “Here Comes Honey Again” and 1974’s “Is It Wrong (For Loving You).” He also helped jumpstart Marie Osmond’s career.

Sonny James – Now

Sonny James remained married and faithful to his wife for 59 years before passing away at the age of 87. Having retired to Nashville, he would return to his hometown of Hackleberg, Alabama to perform, and performed on the town’s 100th founders day.  

Hank Locklin – Then

This 50 year long member of the Grand Ole Opry had a career which spanned over 50 years, spawning such 1970’s hits as “Please Help Me, I’m Falling” and “Send Me the Pillow You Dream On.”

Hank Locklin – Now

Locklin passed away in 2009 at the age of 91, having released 65 records, his last record being a gospel album titled “By the Grace of God.” Shockingly, before he died, he had an enormous following in Europe, specifically in Ireland and in Norway.

Don Williams – Then

Don Williams began a successful solo career in 1970, amassing 17 chart toppers, and coming to be known as the Gentle Giant of country music. His hits include I Wouldn’t Want to Live If You Didn’t Love Me,” and “We Should Be Together.”

Don Williams – Now

While Williams claimed to have retired in 2006, he went on and released a new album, going on tour as far away as the UK. However, the 77 year old now claims that he is done forever, and lives a quiet life in retirement.

John Anderson – Then

John Anderson really started his career in 1977, and has since released several chart topping hits, including “I’ve Got a Feelin’ (Somebody’s Been Stealin’)” as well as “The Girl At The End Of The Bar.”

John Anderson – Now

Anderson continues to perform and released his latest album in 2015. He was awarded the  Academy of Country Music Career Achievement Award, and has been collaborating with various country singers as well.

Olivia Newton-John – Then

The singer-turn actress who will forever be Sandy on the hit musical film from 1978, Grease, was a successful country singer back in the 70’s with songs like ‘Let Me Be There’ that reached the top country music charts. She even won a Grammy for Best Country Female at the time.

Olivia Newton-John – Now

The 68-year-old singer still tours around the country and around her origin country, Australia. In 2015 she was a guest-judge on Dancing with the Stars. She is still happily married to her second husband, John Easterling.

The Oak Ridge Boys – Then

The Oak Ridge boys started as a gospel quartet way back in the 1940s. However, it became a country group after members began rotating out. They scored their first number one with “I’ll Be True to You” in 1978.

The Oak Ridge Boys- Now

The Oak Ridge Boys never really left us, and continue to perform from time to time. They were inducted into the country music hall of fame in 2015 by Kenny Rogers.

Eddy Raven – Then

This Cajun inspired country music star got his start writing songs. It wasn’t until 1974 when his first single “Good News, Bad News” reached number 27 on the charts. And he only went up from there.

Eddy Raven – Now

While Raven continued to perform hit singles such as “Two Much Candy For A Dime” and “Rock Me In The Rhythm Of Your Love,” he is mainly known as being a magnificent songwriter, writing for a plethora of country stars.

Vince Gill – Then

Vince Gill got his start in the legendary country music singing group Pure Prairie League in 1979, and was the lead vocalist on the song “Let Me Love You Tonight”.

Vince Gill – Now

For the first time in a long time, Gill has no record deal and is now free to do whatever he wants, and has since received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has received the prestigious Irving Waugh award for country music excellence.

Rosanne Cash – Then

Rosanne Cash is the eldest daughter of country music superstar Johnny Cash. She released her first album in the late 1970s, but only in Germany, thus making it a collectable.

Rosanne Cash – Now

Cash has followed in the footsteps of her father and stepmother and continues to tour and perform around the United States. She has also received a plethora of prestigious music awards, including three Grammys.

Vern Gosdin – Then

Vern Gosdin started out his music career by singing gospel music. He retired briefly in the mid 1970s to run a glass making business, but then went to record a smash single with Emmylou Harris called “Hangin’ On” in 1976.

Vern Gosdin – Now

Despite a stroke, Vern continued to sing, recording hits covered by Brad Paisley and Lorrie Morgan. He sadly passed away due to a second stroke at the age of 74 in Nashville, TN.

Janie Fricke – Then

Janie Fricke was born in the small northern Indiana town of North Whitley. She began her singing career in the late 1970s with singles such as “Please Help Me I’m Falling (In Love With You)” as well as “I’ll Love Away Your Troubles for Awhile.”

Janie Fricke – Now

Fricke really broke through in the 1980s with her singles “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me Baby,” “Your Heart’s Not In It,” and “It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Easy” amongst others. She won Female Vocalist of the Year in 1982 and 1983. Fricke continues to perform at events around the country to this day.

Juice Newton – Then

Juice Newton started her musical career with a band called Juice Newton & Silver Spur. After she left Silver Spur, she busted out onto the scene with her hit single “It’s a Heartache.”

Juice Newton – Now

Newton continues to tour around the United States and continues to pump out records. Her song “Angel of The Morning” was used during the opening credits for the 2016 summer blockbuster Deadpool.

Mel McDaniel – Then

Creating a following in the oil fields of Alaska, Mel McDaniel burst out into the national spotlight with his first single “Have a Dream on Me”. However, his career really took off in 1981 with “Louisiana Saturday Night” and “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On.”

Mel McDaniel – Now

Mel McDaniel’s career ended tragically when he was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away in 2013. He was inducted into Grand Ole Opry in 1986 as well as the Oklahoma Music Hall of fame in 2006.

Leon Everette – Then

Country music singer Leon Everette decided to go into music after he won a competition held on a radio station while he was serving in the Navy during the Vietnam war, breaking out with Goodbye King of Rock n’ Roll.

Leon Everette – Now

Everette would eventually go on to score several top 100 charting hits, including “My Lady Loves Me (Just as I Am),” “Just Give Me What You Think Is Fair,” and “Hurricane.” Everette continues to perform to this day.

Kenny Rogers – Then

After being a part of country music group “The First Edition” for almost a decade, Rogers struck out on his own in 1975, and released his breakout single “Lucille” soon after. “Lucille” rose to the top of the music charts in 12 countries.

Kenny Rogers – Now

Rogers announced that he is beginning his farewell tour in 2016, and will be retiring soon after. In the meantime, Rogers has been seen performing at various venues and music festivals such as Bonnaroo, and recorded a song with Dolly Parton.

Crystal Gayle – Then

In the 70’s and 80’s, Crystal Gale was the epitome of country music stardom. She was named one of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful Women in 1983, has 6 gold-certified albums, and more than 20 #1 hits on Billboard and Cashbox. Gayle was the first country singer to see one of her albums go platinum in 1977, the pleasantly titled ‘We Must Believe In Magic.’ In 2002, she was named as one of the 40 Greatest Women in Country Music and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Crystal Gayle – Now

In 2016, Crystal Gale accepted a position in the Grand Ole Opry by Carrie Underwood and was inducted into the country show by her younger sister, Loretta Lynn. The veteran star is currently working a new album, which will be her first project in 13 years. Crystal has been married to her husband, Bill Gatzimos, since 1971 and they have two children; Catherine Clare and Christos James.

ADVERTISEMENT