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Don Rhodes keeps ramblin'

Country music his beat for 4 decades

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Longtime reporter and editor and now book author Don Rhodes continues to write the longest-running column on country music in a daily newspaper.

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Johnny Cash signs an autograph for Augusta Chronicle reporter Don Rhodes in 1977.   File/Staff
File/Staff
Johnny Cash signs an autograph for Augusta Chronicle reporter Don Rhodes in 1977.

His Ramblin' Rhodes column appears each Thursday in The Chronicle.

It was on Oct. 31, 1970, that the Rambling Rhodes: Notes on Nashville column first appeared in the Savannah Evening Press. Five months later, someone in the composing room dropped the "g" and shortened it to "Ramblin' ", which it has kept ever since.

Over the years, he interviewed just about everyone in country music, beginning with Minnie Pearl, who brought out her trademark hat with the dangling price tag during a performance in Augusta.

When Rhodes left Savannah for his hometown of Augusta in 1971, Augusta Herald managing editor David Playford encouraged him to keep writing the column.

Publisher Billy Morris suggested that the column shift to the combined Sunday edition of the The Augusta Chronicle-Herald.

Country music historian Robert Oermann was the one who designated Rhodes the "longest-running" country music columnist in America.

His efforts have allowed Rhodes to meet just about everyone in country music.

"It led to my writing album backcover notes for Grand Ole Opry stars Bill Anderson and Lester Flatt," Rhodes once wrote, "being invited by Brenda Lee to the wedding of her daughter; sleeping in Lynn Anderson's pool house; being given bandannas by Willie Nelson, Ray Price and Charlie Daniels; tracking down the first black female to perform at the Opry (Linda Martell of Leesville, S.C.); chatting with Tammy Wynette and Bill Monroe on their custom buses; partying with Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones and Loretta Lynn at the Nashville premiere of the movie Coal Miner's Daughter ; being in Roy Acuff's dressing room while Marty Robbins serenaded Minnie Pearl with Spanish love songs; and being an awards presenter at the 20th anniversary Georgia Music Hall of Fame banquet."

Rhodes was also inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame and nominated several times to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in the nonperforming category.

In recent years, he has written a number of books, including: Say it Loud!: My Memories of James Brown , Soul Brother No. 1 ; Ty Cobb: Safe at Home; and Mysteries and Legends of Georgia: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained .

"My mother, father and stepmother, Jean Rhodes, taught me to follow the Golden Rule and treat others as you want to be treated," Rhodes once wrote. "So for me the greatest and proudest moments come when this column helps something good happen to someone else."

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