5 Late Rockers Fans Would Love To See Honored At The CMT Awards
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Tonight’s highly anticipated CMT Music Awards marked one of the biggest nights in the country music world, Nashville rolling out the red carpet to celebrate the best and brightest country has to offer and their glowing achievements. With collaborations between Luke Bryan and R&B sensation Jason Derulo, rock icon Peter Frampton and outlaw country duo Brothers Osborne and a host of other reasons to celebrate, tonight’s CMT Awards were marked with sadness as the country music world mourned the May 27, 2017 passing of Southern rock pioneer Gregg Allman with a star studded tribute that brought together rock and country in honor of the man who did it best.
While fans from both ends of the musical spectrum agreed that Allman and the half century long musical legacy he left behind received a tribute fit for a king, there’s something else they agreed on: the fact that they’d love to see other late rock legends, musicians whose passion and creativity influenced the country music world a million times over, honored by the CMT Awards in the stunning fashion with which they honored Gregg Allman this evening. Here’s a look at the top 5 artists fans said they’d love to see acknowledged at a future CMT Award ceremony:
1. Glenn Frey, Eagles
It’s hard to talk about the state of music without mentioning the Eagles – more specifically Glenn Frey, who died in 2016 at the age of 67.
Under Frey’s watchful eye, the Eagles soared into legend with their easy, breezy country-tinged brand of rock music, working tirelessly with Don Henley to blend country music’s emotionally charged storytelling and profoundly honest lyrics with rock and roll’s raw passion to craft songs like “Desperado,” covered by country music’s Clint Black, Miranda Lambert, Linda Ronstadt, and late legends Johnny Cash and Chris LeDoux. If ever there was a rock musician worthy of mention, it’s Glenn Frey.
2. Johnny Winter
Born in 1944, all Johnny Winter wanted to do was “play real raw country blues in my own style, and that wasn’t what people were expecting,” as he put it. The Beaumont, Texas native leaned toward rock and blues and his natural, damn near otherworldly guitar playing catapulted him into legend as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, but not even he could escape the country music that was in his blood and colored his music – nor did he want to.
From the British Invasion to our beloved Southern rock and country rock, there isn’t a guitarist alive who doesn’t cite Winter’s snappy, sharp playing as one of the influences in their own music.
3. Toy Caldwell
With a voice that’s equal parts rock and roll and Southern Baptist church on Sunday morning, tinged with the kind of pain that only comes with having lived through a few things, late Marshall Tucker Band founder Toy Caldwell is among one of the most fiercely respected musicians in the Southern rock pantheon, revered not just by his colleagues and friends but by members of the country music world who loved him and called him an inspiration.
Maybe it’s the universe’s way for making up for taking him away in 1993 at the age of 45, but Toy’s voice carried the weary sound of having lived several lifetimes, making his one of the most iconic voices to emerge out of the Southern rock music scene and certainly an overwhelming influence on the likes of Sturgill Simpson and Zac Brown Band, who famously teamed up in 2014 to cover Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See”.
4. Ronnie Van Zant
Nothing went hand in hand like Lynyrd Skynyrd frontman Ronnie Van Zant and his love for country music, beginning as a kid with family road trips to the tune of Merle Haggard crooning “Swinging Doors” over the radio. Before his death in 1977, the 29-year-old rock icon had plans to venture into the country music world and judging by his ability to be good at damn near everything he touched, he’d have no doubt been an overnight success in not just one genre, but two.
These days, you’d be hard pressed to find a country artist that doesn’t cite Lynyrd Skynyrd or Ronnie’s songwriting as a major inspiration; whether it’s country music titans Trace Adkins and Travis Tritt showing love with covers of “What’s Your Name” and “Call Me the Breeze” respectively or Kenny Chesney kicking back on his tour bus with Lyve from Steeltown, Ronnie Van Zant’s presence in the country world is absolutely worth recognizing with a star studded tribute.
5. Leon Russell
Oh come on, y’all! I can see why fans are a little miffed about Leon Russell; with a history with country music that stretched back to his days in the famed Wrecking Crew alongside fellow icon Glen Campbell and over 31 albums under his belt (including an album of country standards released under his pseudonym Hank Wilson) Leon’s legacy is that of a fiercely respected “musician’s musician” – one whose magic touched the lives of not just the audiences that turned out in droves to see his performances, but the who’s who list of musicians who worked with him over the course of a lengthy career that began at the age of 14 in the nightclub circuit of Tulsa, Oklahoma.