Ralph Emery

Sort of the Dick Clark country music?

Ralph Emery started as a DJ but, once he landed a late-night radio spot on WSM, it became pretty clear that he had a way of making artists comfortable, as if the microphone wasn’t there. He regularly had the studio packed with famous guests who stopped by just to shoot the shit, perform live or even play their latest records for the first time on-air. Ralph made the transition to television and anyone who’s watched a healthy dose of country music clips on YouTube has seen him in there.

You’ll find out more about Ralph, maybe even hear him talking, in these episodes of Cocaine & Rhinestones.

CR012 Wynonna

CR012 Wynonna

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Some people think we have all these “authenticity tests” in country music. We don’t. There’s only one test. Wynonna passed it. Then, everyone thought she’d cheated. The answers lie somewhere in her past…

From somehow surviving a childhood full of several types of abuse to a years-long reign over country music radio with her mother in The Judds, this path was not easy to travel and the end of it is only the beginning of another, much more treacherous road. Forget everything you think you remember. This isn’t a Lifetime movie. It’s rated R.

This episode is recommended for fans of: Harlan Howard, Merle Haggard, Charley Pride, Asleep at the Wheel, Ashley Judd, guns, dysfunctional families and liars.

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Jeannie C. Riley

CR008 Harper Valley PTA, Part 2: Jeannie C. Riley

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Jeannie C. Riley’s debut single sold over a million copies within ten days of being released but she never wanted to record the song. She’s often considered a one-hit wonder. We can easily disprove that.

In the late ’60s, Jeannie C. Riley became country music’s most blatant sex symbol to date but she never wanted to wear those clothes. Small town girl with big dreams goes to the city and lets it break her in order to make her. Total cliche, right?

Sure.

Except Jeannie’s choice to bury the story in lie after lie turns it into a mystery tale of obscured identity, infidelity and blackmail. In this episode, some truth sees the light of day, maybe for the first time ever.

Recommended for fans of Johnny Paycheck, Johnny Russell, The Wilburn Brothers, Tom T. Hall, Little Darlin’ Records and mystery novels.

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Shelby Singleton

CR007 Harper Valley PTA, Part 1: Shelby S. Singleton

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Two words to sum up the career of Shelby Singleton?

Publicity stunt.

You think all it takes to make a hit record is to find a good song and get a good performance of it?

That’s cute. Have a seat and let an old-school record man show you how it’s done. This is Shelby Singleton.

When it took driving a trunk full of records around the country to make them into hits, that’s what he did. Then he became a producer. Then he became a VP at Mercury Records. Then he founded an independent musical empire in Nashville and really got to work making new enemies.

This episode is recommended for fans of: marketing, publicity, controversy, rockabilly, Supermensch (the documentary on Shep Gordon), George Jones, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, David Allan Coe, Margie Singleton, Jeannie C. Riley and Roger Miller.

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