Join us on our social media channels every Monday as we explore the life and careers of the members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. #MemberMonday
Tex Ritter and family, pictured here in the early 1970s. Left to right there’s Tex, his son John Ritter, who would become a popular television and movie actor, son Tom, and wife Dorothy Ritter.
In January 1973, Norman Worrell, director of the Tennessee Arts Commission, and Tex Ritter visited artist Thomas Hart Benton in Kansas City. Ritter suggested that Benton create a large visual summary of the roots of country music. The painting became The Sources of Country Music and was dedicated to Tex Ritter. It now hangs here in the Museum’s rotunda.
Tex Ritter made many films in which he played the role of a singing cowboy. In 1940, he starred with Bob Wills in Take Me Back To Oklahoma.
In 1966, Tex Ritter joined Ralph Emery as co-host of the all-night Opry Star Spotlight radio show on Nashville’s WSM. Ritter would co-host the program for sixteen months.
In 1952, Tex Ritter was asked to sing the title song of the Gary Cooper–Grace Kelly western film High Noon. The song was used as a narrative throughout the film and became Ritter’s signature song.
READ MORE ABOUT
In 1947, Merle Travis sketched an idea for a new guitar and asked Los Angeles machinist Paul Bigsby if he could build it. In 1948, the first modern solid-body electric guitar was born.
The Browns Ferry Four quartet was formed in the early 1940s made up of Alton and Raybon Delmore, Grandpa Jones, and Merle Travis. The group was very popular on Cincinnati ration station WLW and through recordings on King Records. The Browns Ferry Four became the inspiration for the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet.
The cover for Merle Travis’s Walkin’ the Strings album features him holding his 1952, custom built Gibson Super 400 Special archtop electric guitar. This guitar is currently on display in the museum.
Chet Atkins was highly influenced by the thumb-picking style of Merle Travis. In 1974, the two teamed up for the Atkins-Travis Traveling Show album.
Merle Travis performs “Nine Pound Hammer.”
READ MORE ABOUT
Cowboy Jack Clement produced or co-produced Charley Pride's first thirteen RCA albums. Clement also produced recordings by Bobby Bare, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Dickey Lee, Roy Orbison, Billy Joe Shaver, and U2.
Cowboy Jack Clement served as our first Artist-in-Residence in 2003 bringing with him a parade of guests that included Billy Burnette, Shawn Camp, Tracy Nelson, John Prine, and others.
As a songwriter, Cowboy Jack Clement wrote songs recorded by Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton, George Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, and many more.
Cowboy Jack Clement was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013, along with Bobby Bare and Kenny Rogers.
Cowboy Jack Clement and friends perform “Wabash Cannonball.”