Will the circle be unbroken # 7: Owen Bradley

Image courtesy of: Country Music Hall of Fame

In our last article in our ‘Shall The Circle Be Continued’, Gareth Williams looked back at earlier examples of the ‘too pop for country’ debate, taking us back to the days of Chet Atkins and producer Owen Bradley, and in this article this week our Americana correspondent Dave Jarman examines Bradley’s important role in developing the careers of some of the best female country artists of this era, whose careers in many cases lasted. , until this day.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of Owen Bradley in the evolution of modern country music. From his Quonset Hut studio in Nashville, and after its 1961 sale to Columbia, his Bradley’s Barn studio outside of Nashville in Mt Juliet, he was a leader in blending traditional country melodies with lyrics and styles. more contemporary pop.

Loretta Lynn, Kitty Wells, Patsy Cline and Brenda Lee were all produced by Bradley, whom he called his angels, with notable successes including “I’m falling apart” and ‘Crazy’ by Cline. He maintained a close working relationship with Loretta Lynn, and Bradley was chosen to direct the film’s soundtrack based on his autobiography. “Daughter of the Coal Miners”, as well as the biopic ‘Sweet dreams’ on Cline’s life.

Head of Country Music at Decca Records from 1958 to 1976, Bradley was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1974.

He then worked as a freelance on projects, including that of kd lang ‘The shadow’ in 1988. Interviewed that year *, he explains that he was not looking for a new project, but that he was convalescing at the hospital when “I saw her on the Johnny Carson show, and saw how energetic she was and how well she sang. I hadn’t heard or seen this in years. Mary Martin , a mutual friend of kd and I set it up, and kd called me and we had a little chat, and we decided to try a few sides.

Originally conceived as a six song EP, the project quickly grew into a full album. Commenting on his voice, Bradley said “Well, that was his power. She’s just different, she’s got loads of energy and control, and she’s just right in tone. She has good taste in what she does, and she can sing any kind of song she wants to sing. And she’s young – she still has a lot of years to go.

Bradley reunited the surviving angels – Kitty Wells, Loretta Lynn and Brenda Lee – for the ‘Honky Tonk Medley’ sung with lang, which closes the album.

“I knew everyone except kd knew the songs, but I knew that wouldn’t be a problem with her. We invited the three girls (Lynn, Wells and Lee) and spent about an hour socializing. Then I said, ‘Okay, all the angels come into the control room and we’ll do some work. We worked about an hour and then when we came back and played what he had everyone laughed and had fun and then went home. It was very fun.”

When asked how long he plans to continue as a producer, Bradley replied “As long as they keep making enough money to allow me to make records, I’m happy.”

An epitaph worthy of one of the greats of country music!


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