Night of legends at N.C. Music Hall of Fame

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 18, 2013

KANNAPOLIS — With spotlights playing on the clouds above, and musical tributes inside, the Gem Theater in Kannapolis played host for the 2013 N.C. Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony Thursday.
The event brought hundreds of music fans to see favorite entertainers and celebrate the state’s contribution to music history.
The show concluded with a reunion of the original recording lineup of beach music band The Catalinas, on stage and performing a medley of classic hits.
the audience was asked “click your heels together” and transport themselves back in time to Charlotte in 1957.
That was the year the original recording lineup of beach music band The Catalinas met in the band room of Myers Park High School.
“It’s super. I’m just honored to be here,” said Sidney Smith, between talking to guests before the show.
Smith joined the long-running band in 1960. A friend of guitarist Johnny Wyatt, Smith said he followed the band around, and eventually joined the lineup.
The N.C. Music Hall of Fame, located in downtown Kannapolis, honors music industry figures who have ties to the Tar Heel state.
“I think it’s marvelous,” Smith said of the honor. “I can’t believe we’re in there with John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk, all those big heavyweights.”
Johnny Edwards, who joined the band in ’61, said the group’s various members had grown to be “like brothers” through the years.
Also on stage for the ceremony was Sarah Phelps, wife of the late Tommy Black.
Black, who joined the band in 1960, was killed in a plane crash in 1968.
Radio personality and sometime singer-songwriter Rick Dees was also inducted.
A native of Greensboro, Dees, helms a long-running radio Top 40 countdown show and a music news website.
He’s also known for the 1976 novelty tune “Disco Duck.”
Dees thanked the Hall of Fame “for allowing me to be a part of this incredible event,” and thanked the fans for their support.
Other 2013 inductees include singers, songwriters and a producer known for his work with county and gospel.
That producer, Greensboro native Tony Brown, played piano with Elvis Presley’s TCB Band and also toured with Emmylou Harris.
As a producer, he oversaw 19 albums and a string of number-one hits for George Strait, and won a Grammy award for his work with the country singer.
Brown was one of several honorees who were unable to attend in person.
Bassist Willie Weeks, a native of Salemburg, was honored for his long career of playing pop, R&B and rock music.
Weeks has appeared with a long list of performers from the Rolling Stones to Stevie Wonder, and recently toured with Eric Clapton.
Accepting the award, Weeks spoke of being inspired by Grand Ole Opry stars such as Porter Wagoner, among others.
“That music, I didn’t know why I loved it, but later on I found out, because I moved to Nashville!” Weeks said.
Other 2013 inductees included:
• Alicia Bridges, songwriter and singer of songs including “I Love the Nightlife (Disco Round), a native of Charlotte. Bridges was unable to attend due to illness.
• Del Reeves, Sparta-born country singer and songwriter. Reeves died in 2007 and his award was accepted by his daughter, Anne.
• John P. Kee, Gospel singer and founder of the New Life Community Choir of Charlotte. Kee was unable to attend due to personal obligations.
• Grady Tate, native of Durham, whose career as a drummer included recording with Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and others, as well as a six-year stint as drummer on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.
The 81-year-old Tate sent remarks from his home in New York, thanking the Hall of Fame for the award.
The program also featured a tribute to Billy Scott, member of the Hall of Fame’s board of directors, who passed away in November 2012.
In his honor, Scott’s former singing partner Ceasar performed several songs.
And Hall of Fame board chairman Bill Kopald announced a proclamation from Governor Pat McCrory naming Scott’s birthday, October 7, Billy Scott Day in North Carolina.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.