Originally created 09/25/98

Ramblin' Rhodes: I love Dolly Parton

She probably still has a long career left in movies and television specials, but it appears the country music recording industry is giving up on her.

I love Dolly Parton. She still is one of the most attractive, original and creative people ever to come along. Yet, at 52-years-old, country radio pretty much has abandoned her, even though her first Decca Records album, Hungry Again, is better than debut albums of most singers in their 20s.

"I think of myself as old as yesterday and as new as tomorrow," she said in a recent interview with The Nashville Network.

The first single from her new label, Decca, is Honky Tonk Songs, which was released July 27. You haven't heard it on your local stations, have you? I believe the wrong track was released as a single. I would have gone with the much better song The Salt In My Tears.

Another song on this album, When Jesus Comes Calling For Me, is a gospel music masterpiece.

Miss Parton wrote the 12 songs on this album, including Paradise Road, which she has been performing on TV talk shows such as Rosie O'Donnell's.

Miss Parton knows most record companies and country stations are uninterested in putting out or playing recordings by country singers past 30.

Record companies look upon young artists sort of like any other new product. They glossy up that product to what they think the public will buy, put it out on the market with a bunch of advertising and see if the public is interested.

They hope that product will sell, and they can make a lot of money off that young product for many years to come. But, more often that not, the public doesn't bite right away, and the record company jerks that product off the market after only one album and one single off that album is released.

For a long time, there have been rumors in the music industry that record companies want some artists to fail, so they can write those failed ablums off as business deductions. That certainly would explain why some record companies have spent a ton of money on making an album for a new artist and then spend next to nothing in promoting that album. Why in the world would that happen? You tell me.

Miss Parton and her first cousin, Richie Owens, spent a lot of creative time co-producing Hungry Again, and fans of Miss Parton should love this album.

Thank goodness, though, she has a bunch of money socked away from her past earnings and sharp investments, or else she really might end up "hungry again" if she was counting on big monetary returns from this album.

GOODBYE TO MONTY: I can't close out this column without saying goodbye to one of the greatest vocalists who came through Augusta.

Bennith Leamond Wilson, better known to his local fans as "Monty," died Aug. 6 at age 53 in Maryland and was buried at Carolina Memorial Gardens in North Charleston, S.C.

Those locally who knew Mr. Wilson in the late '70s and early '80s can't forget his powerful vocals belting out numbers like Jack Greene's Statue of a Fool at Mr. K's Nightclub in Horne's Motor Lodge, on the televised Heart of the Country series and through many appearances on behalf of area charities.

At one time, the Vietnam veteran was in partnership with Alabama band member Jeff Cook in a local boot store at Southgate Plaza. He had come to know the Alabama band members when he performed regularly at a Myrtle Beach, S.C., nightclub just down from where Alabama was regularly playing under their original name, Wild Country.

Mr. Wilson was a gentle giant with a heart of gold. You knew if he was your friend, he always would be your friend.

He never achieved national fame, but Mr. Wilson was a hero and a star in the eyes of those who came to know him. His kind don't come along too often.


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