Becoming an inducted member of the Country Music Hall of Fame has been considered one of the highest honors among country artists for six decades and counting. Congratulations go out to this year’s inductees: Hank Williams Jr., Marty Stuart, and Dean Dillon.
Long-time members of the Country Music Association pick the inductees after a two-ballot vote. In 1961, the first three inductees were Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers and Fred Rose.
Now, almost 60 years after his father was inducted, Hank Williams Jr. has also been chosen to represent country music for future generations.
“It’s a pretty big ladder to climb, when your first two names are Hank Williams, pretty big ladder,” Hank Williams Jr. said. “Sure was fun climbing it,” he added.
Williams, also known to his fans as Bocephus, has created a country music legacy separate from his legendary father. Bocephus is known for his own style of country, rock and blues.
“A lot of guys say ‘you are the guy that made country music what it is today.’ ‘You are the one that changed from the pure country.’ ‘You are the one that made the southern rock,'” he said.
Williams, selected as the CMA’s “Veteran Era Artist,” has not only racked up several No. 1 hits over the decades but also has many awards and achievements. He said becoming a hall of famer has been a “light in the midst of a horrible year.”
In June, he lost his daughter in a car accident. Plus, 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic have been difficult for musicians across the globe. “We are ready in this world of Nashville. We are ready to get out and do something,” said the inductee.
Another inductee, Dean Dillon, fills in the songwriter category.
“Well, it’s the most humbling thing that’s ever happened,” Dillon said.
As a songwriter, he gives his creations to other musicians to perform. Dillon said he was lucky to get his start young, at the age of 18.
“The stars aligned, and I got to write with people who were 35 and 40 years old,” he recalled. “I’m learning crest, you know, and I’ve just been blessed with some of those people that stepped into my step in my path and said, ‘Hey, let’s do this.'”
Dillon has many timeless country hits, including “Tennessee Whisky,” performed by David Allen Coe. He is best known for his work with country legend George Strait.
“To be a part of something so wonderful and be able to do something you love — you know, because there’s so many people that aren’t happy with their position — it’s just so so special, you know, and so special to be a part of it,” He said. “And then to be inducted with Hank and Marty and see my mentor face on that wall and George’s face on that wall. It’s just so humbling. And I’m, I’m just so grateful for it.”
Rounding out this year’s three inductees and another force on the stage is Marty Stuart. He fulfills the “Modern Era Artist” category for the CMA’s.
“He is a remarkable musician who got his professional start in his early teens. He joined the band of Lester Flat,” said Peter Cooper with the CMHOF. Before going solo, Stuart also played in Johnny Cash’s band.
“In the 1990s, he became a country star with tons of hit records,” Cooper stated. “At the time he was making this music that holds up he was also serving as a preservationist.”
Stuart reportedly owns hundreds of pieces of country music memorabilia.
“He’s always been someone who’s forthright about his love of country music and traditions,” Cooper said. “He now fronts one of the best bands in country music. They’re called ‘The Fabulous Superlatives.'”