Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ronnie Milsap

Earlier this year Country Music Superstar Ronnie Milsap announced that this would be his last tour.  

Having been a long-time fan, and knowing that we wouldn't get a chance to see him again, we immediately jumped at the chance to catch his farewell show at The Arcada Theatre last Sunday Night (September 27th).  

This show is pure musical magic from start to finish ... no glitz and glamour ... no special effects ... just good old fashioned playin' and singin' ... with the emphasis on the music every step of the way. 

Now I don't claim to know every single Ronnie Milsap hit ... but I'll tell you what ... there couldn't have been more than three or four of them all night long where I didn't recognize these songs from the very first note.  That's because over the course of a fifteen year period, Milsap took FORTY of those hits all the way to #1 on The National Country Singles Charts. 

As an artist, this has to be both a blessing and a curse.  Each and every night, Ronnie faces the mammoth task of deciding which songs to include in his set.  With 40 #1 Country Hits, he can't possibly perform them all, especially within the confines of a one hour show ... so several of these legitimate #1's have to either be incorporated into some sort of lengthy medley ... (he did several Sunday Night) ... or eliminated all together ... which means he risks alienating some percentage of his audience every night by not featuring their personal favorite which, in many cases, is most likely "the song they came to hear". 

Such was the case with MY personal favorite, "(There's) No Gettin' Over Me", at #1 Country Hit in 1981 that also crossed over in a big way to the pop charts, peaking at #5.  While I may have been somewhat disappointed that this big a hit was downgraded to medley status, I didn't stay upset about it for too long, as he more than made up for it with stellar performances of so many other great country classics. 

Highlights of the evening:  

Smoky Mountain Rain ... this one sounded GREAT!

"Lost In The Fifties Tonight", ALWAYS a crowd-pleaser and really, the perfect homage to the music that started it all, especially with the "In The Still Of The Night" interlude ...

And "Stranger In My House", a song that, incredibly, DIDN'T make it to #1 on Billboard's Country Chart but still ranks as a #1 Country Hit on Ronnie's playlist.  (Milsap's album "40 #1 Hits" is a best seller and available here: ).  

They were selling copies in the lobby, along with a Ronnie Box Set that features everything he recorded for RCA Records, the label he called home for about 35 years.  (That one's got 21 discs in all!)  Milsap also mentioned that he and the band will be back in the studio this Wednesday (October 30th) laying down tracks for a brand new LP.

If you get the chance to see him during this Farewell Tour, please do so ... Arcada Host Ron Onesti indicated that Ronnie has mixed feelings about permanently coming off the road ... but this truly may be your last chance to see him in a live, concert setting.  (Earlier this week Kenny Rogers announced what I believe is his THIRD Farewell Tour ... so we never really know for sure, do we???)  Dates are currently book through the end of the year.  (Check out the complete list here: )

(as included in his 2-CD Set of the same name) ...
plus a few others that also made The Top Five, bringing the grand total to 48 Monster Hits:
1974:  Pure Love / Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends
1975:  I'd Be A Legend In My Time / Too Late To Worry, Too Blue To Cry / Daydreams About Night Things / Just In Case
1976:  What Goes On When The Sun Goes Down / I'm A Stand By My Woman Man
1977:  Let My Love Be Your Pillow / It Was Almost Like A Song
1978:  What A Difference You've Made In My Life /Only One Love In My Life / Let's Take The Long Way Around The World / Back On My Mind Again
1979:  Nobody Likes Sad Songs / In No Time At All
1980: Why Don't You Spend The Night / My Heart / Cowboys And Clowns / Smoky Mountain Rain
1981: Am I Losing You / There's No Getting Over Me
1982:  I Wouldn't Have Missed It For The World / Any Day Now / He Got You
1983:  Inside / Stranger In My House / Don't You Know How Much I Love You
1984:  Show Her / Still Losing You / Prisoner Of The Highway
1985:  She Keeps The Home Fires Burning / Lost In The Fifties Tonight
1986:  Happy Happy Birthday Baby / In Love
1987:  How Do I Turn You On / Snap Your Fingers / Make No Mistake, She's Mine (with Kenny Rogers)
1988:  Where Do The Nights Go / Old Folks (with Mike Reid) / Button Off My Shirt
1989:  Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me / Houston Solution / A Woman In Love
1990:  Stranger Things Have Happened
1991:  Are You Lovin' Me Like I'm Lovin' You / Since I Don't Have You
1992:  Turn That Radio On

 (Special thanks to Luciano Bilotti for all these great shots!) 

DIDJAKNOW?-1:  "Lost In The Fifties Tonight" won the Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance two years in a row!!! (How the heck does THAT happen?!?!?)  But it did ... in 1986 and 1987!  Milsap also won a Grammy in 1988 for Best Country Collaborations with Vocals for his duet with Kenny Rogers, "Make No Mistake, She's Mine" ... and he previously won Best Male Country Vocal Performance Grammys in 1975, 1977 and 1982 for "Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends", "I'm A Stand By My Woman Man" and "There's No Gettin' Over Me" respectively.

DIDJAKNOW?-2:  In 1968, Ronnie sat in on the sessions for the "From Elvis In Memphis" album.  Recorded during those sessions were "Any Day Now" (which wound up on the B-Side of Elvis' #1 Hit Single "In The Ghetto") and "Kentucky Rain", on which Ronnie sang the harmony vocal.  14 years later, Ronnie would score his OWN hit with a remake of the old Chuck Jackson tune "Any Day Now" (written by Burt Bacharach with Bob Hilliard). 

DIDJAKNOW?-3:  Ronnie's 1980 hit "Smoky Mountain Rain" became Tennessee's eight State Song in 2010.