Ken Nelson

There is apparently a different successful music producer also named Ken Nelson. The other one is from England. This one is American and he was the head of A&R at Capitol Records. If it was country music on Capitol for most of the ’50s, ’60s or ’70s, then Ken probably had something to do with it.

You’ll hear a little or a lot about Ken in these episodes of Cocaine & Rhinestones.

CR014 Ralph Mooney: The Sound of Country Music

CR014 Ralph Mooney: The Sound of Country Music

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Ralph Mooney is one of the most important individuals in the history of country music. A legendary pedal steel guitarist, he deserves the reputation he earned on his instrument. However, he deserves a lot more than that. Moon played a major role in upgrading the sound of the entire genre on no less than three separate occasions.

This episode of the podcast backtracks to Bakersfield for a deeper examination of its “sound,” a closer look at some people responsible for it and the story of a man whose story isn’t told nearly often enough. It would be unacceptable to end the first season of a podcast on the history of country music without dedicating an episode to Ralph Mooney. After today, you’ll know why that is.

This episode is recommended for fans of: honky tonk music, the Bakersfield Sound, steel guitar, Wynn Stewart, Waylon Jennings, Ray Price, The Maddox Brothers and Rose, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins, Skeets McDonald and road stories.

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CR010 Buck Owens & Don Rich, Part 1: Open Up Your Heart

CR010 Buck Owens & Don Rich, Part 1: Open Up Your Heart

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Buck Owens is an inkblot test. Ask 20 different people, get 20 different Bucks. Whatever else is true (and some of it certainly is), today we’re talking about the one who brought real country music to the world in a time when we desperately needed someone to do that. Sticking to that real deal honky tonk sound from Bakersfield made him a very famous man. Shrewd business practices made him a very rich man. Both of these things made him more than a few enemies.

However, all you need to take on the whole world is one true friend and Buck Owens had that friend in Don Rich, his guitarist and right-hand man. Here in the first part of this story, we’ll hear how everything came together, all those years ago…

This episode is recommended for fans of The Bakersfield Sound, Merle Haggard, Wynn Stewart, western swing, guitar, David & Goliath stories and the Revisionist History podcast.

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Louvin Brothers in cabin

CR006 The Louvin Brothers: Running Wild

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The Louvin Brothers are widely regarded as the most influential harmony duo to ever cut a country song. The way Charlie and Ira could sing together is downright otherworldly. There’s even a special term we had to invent for family (it’s always/only family) who can sing this way: blood harmony. That being said, it’s possible we’ve never heard what they could really do.

By the way, do you believe in evil?

This episode delves in to exactly what blood harmony is and how the magic of it can’t save you from beating the living hell out of each other at every opportunity. Here is the story of two dirt-poor brothers who fought for fifteen years to achieve their lifelong dream and what happened after that. (Hint: it involves whiskey and bullets.)

This episode is recommended for fans of: singing, physics, the Radiolab podcast, mandolins and Roy Acuff.

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