Barbara Mandrell emceed the induction of her first producer, Billy Sherrill, into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville Tuesday night, part of a star-studded event that paid homage to key players from a variety of genres at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
Billy is the first person enshrined in the Hall as a producer, recognizing his contributions to the careers of George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Tanya Tucker, Charlie Rich and Johnny Paycheck, among others.
Barbara called him “one of the great innovators in American music” and praised his “uncanny knack for matching great songs with the right singers” in setting up a three-song salute that recognized country classics that he directed in the studio. Lee Ann Womack gave a big-voiced interpretation to the Tammy Wynette hit “‘Til I Can Make It On My Own,” Randy Houser delivered an ultra-Southern rendition of Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors” and George Jones induced a standing ovation with his smoky version of “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
As he accepted the glass, guitar-pick-shaped award, Billy’s short acceptance speech turned the focus back on the players: “I had a lot of fun doin’ it with the greatest musicians — or, we like to say, pickers — in the entire world. You made my job really easy. Thank you.”
Kix Brooks, Kid Rock, the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richard, Phil Everly, Melinda Doolittle, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ed King, “When A Man Loves A Woman” singer Percy Sledge and “Knock On Wood” singer Eddie Floyd were also slated to take part in the induction ceremonies, recognizing Hall of Fame additions Booker T. & The MG’s, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Al Kooper, the Memphis Horns, Duane Eddy and Buddy Holly’s band the Crickets.
“The Hall was opened in 2006 to celebrate artists who have been hiding in plain sight for too many years,” Barbara said. “They are the musicians who arrange and play the parts that make singers sound their best. They put those hooks in the songs that we love. There simply wouldn’t be a music business or hit records without them.”
Located in downtown Nashville, the Musicians Hall of Fame displays instruments and other artifacts that belonged to the people who played on a variety of recordings, including memorabilia from Jimi Hendrix, Glen Campbell and former Toto member David Hungate, who went on to play bass on Nashville sessions for the likes of George Strait, Eddie Rabbitt and Shania Twain.