2017 could very well be remembered as the most tragic year for country music. While this year did bring exciting news, such as Sam Hunt's "Body Like a Backroad" record 25 weeks at the top of the Billboard Host Country Songs and People Magazine crowing Blake Shelton (of all people) as the Sexiest Man Alive in 2017, it did bring many people heartbreak. From the passings of country legends and the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, here is a list of some of the moments that made 2017 an unforgettable year.
Michael Johnson, Glen Campbell, Troy Gentry, Don Williams, and Mel Tillis are among many great country music artists and Country Music Hall of Fame members who passed in 2017.
Michael Johnson, a pop and country chart-topper, died on July 25 at the age of 72 after a long illness. Johnson kickstarted his career with hit pop single "Bluer Than Blue", and shortly moved into country music. While Johnson had released his most successful music in the 80's and 90's, he released a mini album Moonlit Deja Vu in late 2012.
Glen Campbell was 81 when he passed away on August 8. Throughout his six-decade career, Campbell sold more than 45 million records he also acquired eight Grammy's along with twelve other awards for his music from the Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music, and the American Music Awards combined. During his final years, Campbell documented his farewell tour and struggle with Alzheimer's. releasing his biography "I'll Be Me in 2014.
Troy Gentry, of country duo Montgomery Gentry, was 50 years old when he was killed in a helicopter crash on September 8. Gentry started his music in the early 90's and shortly paired up with Eddie Montgomery to form Montgomery Gentry. The group released eight albums from 1999-2015 and before Gentry's passing, completed their newest album Here's To You. The lead single "Better Me" was released a week after Gentry's death and the rest of the album is set to be released on February 2nd, 2018.
The same day of Troy Gentry's death, Don Williams died at the age of 78 from a short illness. Williams got his musical start with the group Pozo-Seco Signers in the early 1960's and went solo in 1972, with his first country single "Don't You Believe" which started a career recording 17 number 1 songs. Along with his Country Music Association, and Academy of Country Music Awards, Williams was also awarded the Artist of the Decade by an overseas magazine and inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010. Williams' last album Ruby Tuesday was released in 2016.
Me Tillis, a very influential country artist whose music from the 60's to the 80's was an inspiration to dozens of artists that followed, died November 19 at the age of 85. Tillis was active from the late 1950' until 2015, releasing #1 country hits and starring in Hollywood films securing him a spot in the Nashville Songwriter's, Grand Ole Opry, and Country Music Halls of Fame. In 2012 he was even awarded the National Medal of Arts. Tillis released Big Hit Collection, his final album, just over two years before he died.
Lost this year were also 59 of the 547 victims of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival shooting in Las Vegas. Although I cannot name each individual separately, the is an online memorial page on CMT.ca that lists each victim and tells about the wonderful people that they were.
Although this year was, in some ways, worse than any we have seen before, it doesn't mean that 2017 should be a year to overlook but rather to grow from in 2018.