Jimmy Fortune toured, sang, and performed with the legendary Statler Brothers for 21 years. He joined them first as a temporary replacement for Lew DeWitt, after DeWitt heard him singing at a ski resort and recommended him. Following an audition in Nashville, Jimmy was contacted by the Statler Brothers and performed his first show with them on January 28, 1982, in Savannah, Georgia. Due to the debilitating effects of Crohn’s Disease, Lew was unable to return to the stage with the Statlers, and Jimny was hired as a permanent replacement in August of 1982.
Fortune quickly lived up to his name. He wrote the group’s second No. 1 hit, “Elizabeth,” on their 1983 album Today, and followed that with two more No. 1 hits–“My Only Love” (from 1984’s Atlanta Blue) and “Too Much On My Heart” (from 1985’s Pardners in Rhyme). Fortune also wrote the top-10 hit “Forever” from 1986’s Four for the Show and co-wrote the top-10 hit “More Than a Name on the Wall” from 1988’s The Greatest Hits.
Jimmy has performed in all of the U.S. States, in Canadian Provinces, and in front of audiences as large as 100,000. He was part of the Statlers’ annual Happy Birthday USA celebration in Staunton, Virginia, for 14 years. He also sang on many of the Statlers’ gold, platinum, and double platinum recordings. Jimmy’s career included The Nashville Network’s popular “The Statler Brothers Show” which aired for seven seasons and debuted in 1991 as the highest rated show for the network. Jimmy was privileged to perform at the White House on two occasions, once for President Ronald Reagan, and once for President George H. W. Bush. He also presented a special gift to actress Elizabeth Taylor by singing his song “Elizabeth” to her for a birthday celebration.
Jimmy and The Statler Brothers were inducted into the GMA (Gospel Music Association) Hall of Fame on October 29, 2007, and inducted into the CMA (Country Music Association) Hall of Fame on June 29, 2008. Jimmy, as a solo artist, was inducted into the Virginia Musical Hall of Fame in 2018.
After The Statler Brothers retired on October 26, 2002, Jimmy seized the opportunity to launch a solo career to share new music with his fans. His first solo CD, When One Door Closes, was released in August 2003 on Audium/Koch. He released a gospel album, I Believe, in June 2005, a Christmas CD, Feels Like Christmas, in 2006, a live concert DVD in 2007 a country CD, “Windows” in 2009, “Lessons” in 2012, and “Hits and Hymns” CD and DVD through Gaither Music Group in 2015 which debuted at #10 Billboard Country Album, #1 Southern Gospel, and #6 Billboard Contemporary Christian. The DVD debuted at #1 on the Billboard Music Video charts. In 2017 he recorded a compilation of his favorite songs called “Jimmy Fortune Sings The Classics” on the Gaither Music label. Jimmy is currently living in Nashville, writing, touring, and recording a new project for Gaither Music called “God and Country” set to be released in May of 2019.
Sat, 4/23 10:35PM • 2:13:02
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Randy Hulsey, Jimmy Fortune, Adam Gordon
Randy Hulsey 00:00
Hey everyone, it's Randy Hulsey here. Thank you all for tuning in this evening. Today I'm excited about chatting with my guests. And to say I'm excited would probably be a little bit of an understatement. My guest this evening was a member of one of the most successful and influential vocal groups to ever record country music. They have released around 50 albums, which of them 13 were gold, three were platinum and one went triple platinum. He is an inductee of the Virginia Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Sit tight as we go on a musical journey with the tenor voice of the Statler brothers and his more recent project called brotherly love. We will chat it up with Jimmy fortune when we return.
Adam Gordon 00:42
This is backstage pass radio, the podcast that's designed for the music junkie with a thirst for musical knowledge. Hi, this is Adam Gordon. And I want to thank you all for joining us today. Make sure you like subscribe and turn the alerts on for this and all upcoming podcasts. And now here's your host of backstage pass radio, Randy Halsey.
Randy Hulsey 01:11
Jimmy fortune How are you sir? Thanks for being here.
Jimmy Fortune 01:14
Doing good, Randy. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it very much. It's
Randy Hulsey 01:17
it's certainly my pleasure. I was gonna say for a young man out of Stanton, Virginia, what a career you've had.
Jimmy Fortune 01:25
Well, I used to be a young man. I've lived about five lives in one but yeah, it was, you know, playing music around Virginia most my life and then of course, when I was 26, the Statler brothers hired me to come play with them. And I was there for 21 years, and now I've been in my 23 year old as a solo career. So yeah, it was pretty. It's been a great venture, as you said before journey, it's been a journey and, and one that I have just pinched myself sometime to see if it was really real, you know,
Randy Hulsey 01:59
I could imagine and I was gonna ask you, would you ever have guessed, as a young man or a teenager, you know, growing up in Virginia, that you would ever join one of the most celebrated vocal groups in country music history. I mean, I'm just wondering if that ever sinks in? I'm sure it does, because you were with them for over 20 years, but, you know, wow,
Jimmy Fortune 02:21
I was playing music for the nunnery we were playing. For years, I played cover music and I played the Holiday Inn circuit to Sheraton in Ramadi into whatever, four years, six nights a week, four hours a night for years, and of course, I listened to radio a lot but the Statler brothers were being from that area were bigger than life and they were one of the biggest groups in country music ever and and I used to listen to their stuff. Of course, I was a big fan of theirs and always supported the you know, the local blacks that were from Virginia. Sure. But I didn't really know and I actually didn't meet Palooza which was tenor singer for the Statler brothers. I didn't meet him until about a year before what even that just a few months, a couple months before I met him at Stan Virginia. I met Lou at a jam session of all things at a place called wintergreen. Virginia was going up to sit down with some friends of mine that actually were having a jam session, flew to wit happened to be there that night, and I met him first course I ever Whenever I listen to the status quo, there's always saying his part is okay, or not always, you know, sing along and try to match those parts because I was a big fan. Absolutely. And I didn't know it at the time, but he suffered from Crohn's disease, and he was going to have to be out for about six months. But I met him that night. And there's a night for Thanksgiving. 1981 And I thought, great to meet him and he just went on and on about how he liked my singing and everything. And I thought well, that's great, but I'll probably never hear from him again. Right? And then lo and behold, like, right between Christmas and New Year so of 1981 I got a call from established to come over and talk to him that I was one of the first names out of his mouth to to actually fill in for him. You know, he's gonna be gone for about six months. Okay. And, and long story short, I mean, they had they had an interview set up in Nashville too. But I was the first one in the door and stand to come over meet up with Tyrell feel and Dawn and they told me Lou was going to be out and and he was looking for somebody to fill in for him. And so they tried me out and then of course they had to come to Nashville. Because they figured sure that first guy that comes to the door but not gonna be the guy Yeah, sure. And so they went ahead and went to Nashville and then he called me up a few weeks later and asked me to come to Nashville and, and record just to see what it sounded like and and then they told me that after that, that they wanted me to do it. And I mean, you can imagine I was this kid thinking, Man, I'm gonna be a holiday him when I'm 60 playing all day. Because I love music. Absolutely that I would never give it up, sir. And I said, Well, that's, that's where I would be if the Starbucks had hired me. Yeah, yeah. Well, I
Randy Hulsey 05:20
think the crazy thing about that story is that it was supposed to just be a temporary thing, right?
Jimmy Fortune 05:26
Yeah, they told me and what? I never, you know, when I thought about it, I never wanted to come into a group when the person that wanted to come in and take somebody's place, because there was some friction or something, or somebody didn't get along. Yeah, oh, here comes a new guy. I never wanted to be that guy. Sure. And so I knew that I was helping out, I knew that it wasn't that way, I knew that he was having some health problems. And that I was helping him to kind of continue on until he could come back. And so never, ever thought it would turn into anything else. As a matter of fact, during that, that little six month period of between January and July, I had a couple of offers from a couple record labels saying, you know, hey, whenever, whenever you're done with this, we want to talk to you about doing something and maybe see, see if you see what you think about an offer from us or something like that. And I said, Sure, because I thought well, what's Lou came back then, you know, I that would make sense of career. But um, I had no idea when Lou came back for about a week and he rehearsed with the group and I thought things were, I thought things were going really good, smooth. And I thought everything was gonna be okay. But I was playing group, they asked me if I play guitar for him for a while, until the finance Blue was okay. I said, Yeah, sure. And so, I practice with the group play with the band. And while Luke came in and played, and I was just happy to be there, I didn't matter where it was, they can only take the trash out when we happen to do it. Right. And so Luke came to me after the practice a couple of times. And then he came to me and he said, Look, he said, it was just him and me talking. He said, How would you feel about, you know, you've done a great job up to this point. People love you. You've done you think you can do the job? He said, How would you like to just take my spot and be one of the Statler brothers? And I said, Look, Lou, I said, Nobody, nobody can take your place. I said, and I don't want to take your place. But I said, You all given me a break. And I said, I would be a fool or an idiot to turn this down. Because you all have been so good to me. And he said, Well, I don't think I can do this. He said, You've done a great job at this point. So why don't you just take the range, go with it? And I said, Are you sure that's what you want? Are you really, really sure? He said, Yeah, that's what I want. And I said, Well, then I'm your man. Yeah. What is the way it happened?
Randy Hulsey 08:01
I was gonna say, I had a buddy told me the other day, you know, I was telling him that I was going to talk to you, you said Man, Jimmy fortune could sing the phonebook and not to slight your vocal ability. But what a Cinderella story. I mean, again, not to slight your ability to sing in that group. But you know, this is a well, we all know who the Statler brothers are. I mean, they've been around for forever and Hall of Famers. And to be asked to be permanent in that group must have been, like you said, kind of pinch me. Pinch me kind of moment for you. Right?
Jimmy Fortune 08:38
Well, it was because I mean, being you know, I was about 15 years younger than Harold and Bill DOM about 10 years younger than he was and I kind of thought Why. Why would they want to hire us hire me since I was a kid. But I was a kid. I had a lot of warehouse green. Yeah. But they took me in as a little brother. And that's the way I built an account felt like they protected me kind of had a hedge around me like, hey, you know, we were looking at for sure it was, let's face it. I was a young kid. And at that time, I was, I didn't know what I could have got into something. Who knows? When I was done if I'd have been out there on my own and just, you know, with, I never drank or did drugs or anything like that? Sure. But who knows what could have happened, you know, with me. And I kind of felt like, man, these are my big brothers. They kind of looking out for me. They you know, and all I had to do was just show up saying my part. They took care of the rest. I mean, it was a well oiled machine. Wow. And the business wise, they took care of business and took care of the families took care of the people that work for them. And they will it was a fairy tale kind of a story really. But I got to hear of course they were with jelly ash and I got to meet everybody who was in the music business and they Even people who were in, you know, movies, probably actors, absolutely. Actors extradited, I got to meet so many people. And things that I used to watch on TV and go, Man, it was just so far fetched. It was like another planet. It's like another world. Yeah. And all of a sudden, I got to be a part of it. It made a lot of times I didn't know what to say. And a lot of times I didn't say hey, it, I don't know how to explain
Randy Hulsey 10:31
it. But that's interesting. It is interesting that you say that I've had a few guests on my show that had gone on to play with, with bigger name groups, and it's groups that they kind of grew up idolizing over time. And it was they said, Man, it was surreal to have always been a fan of group XYZ and then next thing you know, I'm playing guitar in this band, so it was a very surreal thing for them. Almost like like you're saying about the Statler brothers. It's kind of the am I really, am I gonna Vortex here, you know, is this really happening kind of thing. But what a cool story and it you know, I said earlier that this is a treat for me because as a young boy, I can remember growing up and my dad we had an old Ford F 150 pickup truck with a eight track player in there. And I think it was the Statler brothers volume one that he had the eighth track of and Jimmy, we wore this this dang thing out. I mean, literally me and my brother and my dad sang every song going down the road, we always wanted to sing Harold's park, you know, everybody wanted to be the bass singer. But man, if you had any idea how many times the songs were played in this truck. So I can remember as a as a young kid, you know, that music kind of shaping me into the musician and the music that I love today. Statler brothers were very much a part of that. And so something thank you guys, and you know, the boys and for all the music over the years, for sure.
You're very welcome. It always amazes me how many people the standard was touched all those years? I mean, they had a, like a hard hardcopy mailing list of 200,000 people unbelievable. And, I mean, and I mean, you it takes computers today to kind of do that kind of stuff. They did it, it was all and absolutely. And all these letters went out, like, you know, every quarter, they send letters out to everybody. And it was like what's going on, and, you know, being a part of the fan club, sure, all this stuff, and this was back when, but it didn't really cost you anything to be a fan it just, but then the standard was, would mail all that stuff out and a lot of money, you take 200,000 copies of something going out and a lot of time. But they cultivated those fans, and the fans return the love to them over and over and over again. And still do today. Absolutely. They had they still follow me and, and support me and my career. And it's been off. I mean, it's been a mess. Only way I've made it because of those fans, you know, and things like people like you sure that accepted me even though, you know, Alou wasn't there, but they knew why I was there. I wasn't there to take his place. I was there to help him and maybe make it another 20 years and, and to say, make a place for myself. Always knowing in my back and my heart. My mind. Lou was always the number one tenor for the style, but he was he was that guy to me. They just let me be a little brother to come along and help them make it when Lou didn't feel like he could do it anymore. You know, you know,
Randy Hulsey 14:00
it's it's interesting, because I can remember him singing in the group. And I certainly remember your parts that you did in the group. And I don't ever remember comparing the two singers right you are who you are. He was who He was. But it's funny. How when a lead singer leaves a notable band, how quickly people judge Oh, well he's not Freddie Mercury or he's not blah blah blah. Well, I don't really think that he was ever trying to be and a lot of people are judged but I don't I don't remember certainly from myself but and you might correct me Was there ever scrutiny for you over will Jimmy you're trying to be like him and did you ever feel that from your from your possession or from your chair?
Jimmy Fortune 14:51
You know, when I first went into the Statler brothers and we were doing autographs after the shows up, and I remember there would be a few people that would come through, they would just, you know, walk around me and wouldn't even wouldn't talk would say, but it kind of looked at me, you know, kind of weird, but, but I understood that. And I always said, you know, hey, and I had a few people, you know, say, Hey, man, you know you, you're good, but she ain't alluded with you know, and I said, Hey, I understand that that's fine, because everybody's different. Yeah. And, and then you have people come up, say, oh, man, you're so you're better than and I didn't. You know, I didn't like either comment.
Randy Hulsey 15:33
Absolutely. I can understand that. Because you're a humble musician. Sure.
Jimmy Fortune 15:37
Yeah. I just respected him so much. I didn't want anybody say anything negative about him. And I didn't want anybody saying the name about me either, because I was just there to help. Absolutely. And what I knew in my heart of hearts, I knew that there would always be that Oh, blew it and me fortune. But Lou was a stylist of his own right. And he was a great songwriter. He was a great musician. And I think he was a great tenor singer. He and I had different styles but what we did do both of us, when we sang with the Statler brothers we were all together you could tell it was the Statler brothers it never changed that part of that when he sang you could tell it was him when I sang you could tell it was me on a you know solo part when we did our parts with the static bows I don't think till the blend was there Yeah, there was a little bit different but not a whole lot that blend of the statues established sound was there. I will go back and I've made this from our i i love the writing of the Statler brothers before I came along, I loved all that nostalgia, and the history the things that they wrote about they wrote about growing up in, in the in America in the 50s, and 60s and 70s. And so whenever I came along, music was taken a little bit different term more contemporary, even country was kind of getting a little bit more contemporary and was getting we were trying to, to not write to that, but kind of take ourselves into another realm of, of even though we kept in this something this Daljit thing, who did we get? Right? So this stuff, especially Dawn and Harrow, some of the stuff I wrote kind of was, I never wrote before actually, Elizabeth was actually the first song I ever wrote, you talked about a God thing in my life. But I didn't know I could write until he hired me because I was doing other people's songs for sure. But my songwriting was more of what I felt in my heart. I couldn't sit down necessarily write a song about you know, a 57 Chevy or, or what it was like to grow up back in the 50s Even though I was a kid dad, but what I wrote was this love songs, mostly mostly songs, you know, that type of thing. And heartbreak and and things and that's kind of the way a country music was going at the time. So we kind of broke into another cattle realm, therefore Wow. But never ever lost track of who the staff births were. Because they already had all those hits laid all you had to do is go out there and do them and perform Sure. And because they weren't out Brother Song, we just when I started writing, I think it was just a little bit different. But it was something that I couldn't I couldn't go back and copy Luke couldn't go. You can't be someone else. You just can only be yourself. Absolutely. And they let me be myself. And I think that was the whole magic of all of it narration that it did work.
Randy Hulsey 18:51
Yeah. And I think it's interesting that even with a new voice like yours, and the Statler brothers, it was like you said it was it still sounded like the Statler brothers and it made me think and I don't want to get off on a tangent on this but it's interesting to point out that I saw a video recently of is it Harold's son or the read sons that are in this group grant is at Grand Junction or something like that? Well, it was Grandstaff Grandstaff okay.
Jimmy Fortune 19:20
They changed their name to Wilson Fairchild. Okay, but
Randy Hulsey 19:23
to hear those guys saying, I mean, they sound identical to their dads. It's just unbelievable. It's haunting the similarity of the voice right. And even to hear Keith Whitley son sing these days, He sounds just like his dad. So that undertone of the Statler brothers was there when you started and then with those guys, even though they're not trying to mimic their dads, right, they sound identical to me. I mentioned Stanton Virginia, at the opening of the show, told me just a little bit high level about You know, your childhood growing up in the Northeast like before the Statler brothers like, were you a sports kid? Were you always a music kid? Did you come from a musical background talk to the listeners a little bit about, you know, the young Jimmy fortune growing up in Virginia?
Jimmy Fortune 20:18
Well, of course born in 1955 and are born into a family who's saying it was not a substance seven a man job. And if you ever saw the Waltons TV show, you saw where I grew up. I mean, and the same places they talked about on the walls. I was good friends with Harold hammer, who was the writer, creator of the wall and save now, we used to swap stories back and forth about growing up and Nelson County, Virginia. And he passed away a few years ago and well, I miss him very much. But I tell people all the time in my shows that if you saw the Waltons, that's that's pretty much how I grew up. Interesting. My family did saying, I grew up thinking that everybody's saying I thought you walked you talk, you ate you slept, you had to then it found out standing next to my mom in church one Sunday. This man came in standing next to me and opened his mouth in the bus is the worst sound I've ever heard in my life. And my mom had to explain to me that not everybody could say that it was that it was a gift from God that you were able to sing. I ever hence I always took it that way. And so I was saying churches on Sunday with my mom and my dad, my my brother and sisters. And then when I say we were poor, we were really we really weren't poor. I mean, we, we we lived in a place. Nelson County, Virginia is where I grew up. And we lived over an air flow place go for when I was a kid. And they saw Nellies forward it was right on the rockfish river. And, and across the river from where we live, there was this back road, there was this dump that people used to dump their trash and try to come in front of our house to see if everybody dumped their trash. And they dumped it there because whatever we flooded would wash everything away and you know, back then that's just the way it was. Absolutely. But I found so many things in that, that I used to play with as a kid toys and things like that, those all they're all broken, but I would take them home and they were meaningful to me. So of all things I was eight years old, I found a little guitar and that there was a little guitar hit two strings on it. And I took that guitar home and kind of turned him up where I could, you know, at least play him and I would do melodies I pick out melodies on those two strings. And so mom and daddy said, you know, I'd had a thing for a few couple of years. And they were think they said, you know, we think you really do have some talent, you know, you might be able to play guitar if you had a real one. And I said, I said do you think I might get a real one one day? And they said, Well, maybe we're gonna see if we can scrape up enough money to get you on. And so years would go by and they think well, Christmas, Christmas, maybe I get one. Well, when I was 12 years old. That was Christmas. 1967. Mom and Dad said they thought they're gonna they're gonna try to get me that guitar, give me a guitar. I had my hopes up. And it was like a few little bit before Christmas, they told me, they said, well, we don't think we're going to be able to do it because we just it was like a guitar that they want more to buy. And it was like $52 and there's too much rent and groceries for us. Basically. I knew the debt, you know, probably wasn't going to happen. So Christmas comes around and and I'm thinking I was disappointed but yet I was thinking maybe it was a surprise. Maybe they still might get it for me. You know what I'm saying? Yes, there's kind of that hopeful thing. So I remember coming down on Christmas morning 1967 right before I went through the door, I just stopped and I said man, I hope it's there. But if it's not I'm just going to be happy with what I what I get. Christmas was really a big thing for us is that the only time of the year you got anything because we think for birthdays or Easter nothing. I mean, it was just Christmas time was it so open the door came through the door. And there was this beautiful harmony guitar sitting on the couch next to the Christmas tree. And I ran over I grabbed it with solid mahogany and I just grabbed a guitar and I on on to it and I told my daddy I said I said if I can learn to play this and sing at the same time. I'm gonna make a living at this. And he said Boy You crazy? He said, You can't make a living playing music. He said, Why do you think they call it planning?
Randy Hulsey 25:06
That's a great story. But
Jimmy Fortune 25:09
I said, as usual, I didn't listen to my dad. There were a lot of times I wish I had. Sure.
Randy Hulsey 25:14
Did we all have those
Jimmy Fortune 25:15
stories? Oh, yeah. But I got the guitar. And then I started learning how to play. And within a year I was I had a band together, I was playing now. My first gig was Livingston elementary school that I went to. And I play for PTA meeting with three of my friend. We made $1 piece. And I went back home and told Danny I said,
Randy Hulsey 25:41
we made will Did he ever that's, I love that story there. And there's a couple of points that I want to talk to about that story. But did he? I'm not sure if your your folks are still around or what the story is there. But what did he ever get to see you at the height of the Statler brothers career or, you know, did he
Jimmy Fortune 26:03
he did that, that my daddy would what he would play. He was a mandolin player, he, he would play square dances and things like that. So he would take me with him sometime as a kid. And they would like play they give me an old guitar or something, let me sit on back. And I would just plunk on that guitar sitting in the back while they were playing a VFW hall or something like that, where we were some of the places where we were from. And I would just sit there all night long. And at one spot, just beaten the devil I think. And so whenever I got the guitar, he showed me three chords on on that guitar. So whenever I started playing music, I was playing covered music, so I was learning songs off the radio. And, and then we would go out and play them on the weekends. And then we would practice on the front porch. And a lot of times we were playing practice and stuff it was it was more like rock and roll with that kind of stuff. And dad he didn't he didn't like rock and roll he like he would come home and we'd be on front porch for practicing decently. Oh, playing it jump boys, you ain't ever go make plain Rock, rock and roll. And y'all got to start playing some good music man. You know, he'd go on, he just went on Oh, eight and he actually wanted me to play gospel music and are just country you know. And so anyway, I was doing music and so after peace saw me struggling, you know, for years. And but just playing music just being happy because I was playing. It didn't matter. It was like it just didn't matter whether I made it or not. I just love music. Sure,
Randy Hulsey 27:49
I get you and
Jimmy Fortune 27:51
just the rest. If I ever made it, it will still just be icing on the cake gravy. So when saddlebrook was hired me and went through all that, and of course, he didn't say a lot. He was just watching it all kind of like but in disbelief like, I just can't believe this is happening, you know. But I remember him coming to the first show that I did with him in Roanoke, Virginia, in 1982 came out on the bus after we were done the show. And I remember I said There you go, daddy. I told you I was gonna make it. Yeah, but you didn't make it plain and rock and roll what?
Randy Hulsey 28:35
You had a point there then the
Jimmy Fortune 28:37
last word and death, right? But But yeah, he, he was pretty proud. But proud of all of his kids. He he and my mom were both really good about not showing partiality. Because I had, you know, so called made it or whatever. Sure. And it was always a they loved us all the same. It just didn't matter, which was was great. And I understood that. And I always try not to be like I'm all that and I'm this and I've never felt that way. I just always felt like I was so very blessed and had some lucky things breaks happen in my life. Absolutely. You know, things just happened to fall into place because I had brothers and sisters that worked hard and they're good. People did great things in their life wouldn't necessarily have a spotlight on Absolutely.
Randy Hulsey 29:36
You don't have to have a spotlight to be successful and to be happy. Right? It's kind of interesting. We talked a little bit about you know this before we hit the record button but we were talking about guitars and isn't it amazing that you say you know when you were growing up that just buying a $50 guitar was a major thing for your family and you We here we are, you and I both are fortunate and blessed enough to be playing for and $5,000 guitars not that price matters, but it's amazing how, you know, growing up even, you know, I bought my kids, you know, three $400 guitars and and maybe who knows maybe 30 years from now we'll look back and say, Man, we barely had enough money to buy that $4,000 guitar. It's all relative maybe I don't know. But you know, you talked about that $50 guitar, and it really puts things in perspective where you were and where you are
Jimmy Fortune 30:35
now. Well, that's why I'm winning guitar to me an instrument and is a sacred bank.
Randy Hulsey 30:44
Jimmy Fortune 30:45
I mean, I've never been one of these people, I get really mad, I get upset when I see somebody busting my guitar on stage. It just bothers me. And I don't care who it is. I don't care who's listening. It has been what I don't like it. And I hate it when I say it. Because I know how hard it was for me to have one ups even even that little that there was a treasure to me to find that one and dump that had two streams on. So if ever I see a kid that really needs a guitar, and I have a lot of great guitars now. I mean, I get up into this position that step where people will just come and give you a guitar they give them to, you know, and you can afford to buy them, but they give them to you absolutely cool. But
Randy Hulsey 31:29
you think man, there's somebody that needs
Jimmy Fortune 31:33
Alexei, you know, hey, rather than give me a guitar band, you look at some kid out there struggling. And you see what if you see that kid, you tell him hey, I was gonna give this to Jimmy force. But look, I want you to have Yeah. Because Jimmy, you know, I mean, I mean, that's just the way I feel about it. Like you said, we can we can afford to buy these guitar, we can't we and I appreciate the ones that people have given me. But I will forever I see a kid out there that struggling and that they need a guitar or something. And I see that and they asked me to desire, I'll make sure that kids got it. It's one of mine, I'll say here, you can have taken this guitar.
Randy Hulsey 32:14
And you know what, Jimmy, you would get more gratification out of that than you ever would even strumming that guitar that they gave you just knowing that you help somebody that was less fortunate out, you know that that goes a long ways. And it's such an interesting story, when you were telling me that you found that guitar in the dump. I said to myself, don't tell me that guitar had two strings on it. And the reason I say that is I am editing a podcast of a friend of mine, who is a musician out of Galveston, Texas who has made a big splash in in Europe over in France. And he was as I was editing the show yesterday he was I asked him the very same thing. Do you remember your first musical instrument? He said, Yeah, my dad bought me a guitar that only had two strings on it. You guys are the only two. I've had these interviews. And both of you guys started out on two string guitars. And I said, Well, Zach, you know, I guess that's better than one string. If you want to look at it from the positive
Jimmy Fortune 33:13
side. Yeah. Yeah, that's it's pretty wild. Because it's the love that you have for you know, and I'm not a great guitar player, but I, I accompany myself, and it's a part of me, you know, it's not. I mean, there's so many great guitar players. And I would, I would love to say that I was a great guitar player. But I thought, but I do love being able to play and sing. At the same time. My dad, our and the my voice brought me to the table. My voice is what's been the strong point for sure. The guitar playing came later. And the songwriting came later. But they were just kind of things that I did. But having a second voice was the gift that the real strong gift that God gave me. And it was not just the voice, it was the uniqueness of having a voice that when you saying so myself, I know that I know. That's memorable. You know, I know that's, you know, so So I know. I know this George Jones when you hear and, you know, that you hear and and then that self is a gift is a gift. And so the fact that what God put in my heart was the desire to get out and use it. And the ability to say, I'm going to do this because I love it for any other reason. And then let everything else fall into place. And like I said, if that hadn't happened with staples, I'd be somewhere. Somewhere in Virginia somewhere playing guitar.
Randy Hulsey 34:53
You'd be playing all day playing all the holiday and like you said
Jimmy Fortune 34:58
somewhere or something
Randy Hulsey 35:00
I've always said to I'm kind of like, well, I wouldn't say I'm like you at all, but kind of like you and the fact that I'm not the greatest guitarist in the world, but I do well enough to go out and play my shows. And I was blessed with a decent voice. And you know, you you were blessed with a beautiful voice, and you're a pretty good guitar player, whereas I was mediocre with both. I'm just, I'm just glad that God gave me good looks, or I would really have nothing to fall back on. You know. That's what I keep telling myself. I will tell you that. That's right. What music was shaping you, you know, you talked about? You got the two string guitar, you're picking out melodies? What was the music from a musical group or an artist that you remember that was shaping you as a young man and to maybe what you would play later? Or what you gravitated to from? From a musical genre? You know, you mentioned rock and roll. Was it an Elvis thing? Was it somebody else? Talk to me a little bit about that?
Jimmy Fortune 36:07
No, I mean, I've heard Elvis and everything going up and knew who he was, but I didn't. It was more of a of a thing where I heard when I was about six years old, my daddy had a 57 Plymouth. And it had a radio in it. We didn't have a TV or radio or anything in our house, Tom. But I remember him turning the radio on. And I heard this is what I remember hearing. The first time I've de turned the radio on. I heard Bluetooth sweet lips, a little closer to the phone. looks prettier. Pretend we're together all alone. Jim raised memories. And I heard that voice. And then I had to climb. Oh my gosh, Peter Davis when she did? Oh, gosh, what was it? What was the song she did? That was so good. That just got me into the world. Okay. And I fell in love with the dolls and there was country music and all these different stars and country music day. One of the first albums he got me was Charlie, Charlie, and he brought it home and we listened he would get actually would take me to my aunt and she had a restaurant. And she had a jukebox. Okay, but nickels in the jukebox and, and he would get me to write the words down to learn the songs that are like, just an angel. Good morning. Sure. Sounds like that for Charlie Pratt. Absolutely. All the private banks. And he would say you might have heard him right, you better get these words real quick, because I'm running out of nickels. You know, so. And so that's how I learned songs until Daddy got. But it was like Charlie fried Glen Campbell, Berkshire. I love to him. What a great guitar picker. He was. Oh, yeah. And then to think so, so many years down the road. I was going to be doing shows with them. I mean, of course, we just lost Charlie pride not long ago, but just a couple of years ago. We were in a friend's house. I was sitting on a couch with Charlie Pratt and I'm singing tenor to Charlie Pratt while we sit on the couch playing guitar. And I'm thinking my daddy went and got those would get me to learn those songs off of a jukebox. And here I am sitting here playing loud music with Charlie Pratt. I'm playing with. Yeah, we did Vince Gill. I mean, then Campbell show. When I first remember the Sabbath, I went down to Milan, we went up, and we did a big cable show. And I'm standing on stage. And I'm doing my guitar up to go play. And Glen Campbell walks up. And he still I'm playing something. He just starts playing along with me. I'm standing there looking at him with this. I'm the kid looking at him going. No way. Man. This is not right. Because my daddy bought me these records and and I listen to you, you're so untouchable. You're bigger than life. Right? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I wasn't going to be able to ever stand by Glen Campbell and play a guitar. No way. And I got to talk to him and pick his brain about things in bed and ask him questions. And I'm sitting here going, how did this happen? Unreal. 10. It's still it's still bigger than life. It still is. I mean, it happened. And here I am. All these years even past windowblinds gone. Jolly proud to go. George Jones and all these great people. Chet Atkins, I got to talk with him and pick his brain out Asking questions about things and, and these were guys that they were just, I don't even know how to explain it. Yeah, they were larger than life. And I went from that little dump, picking that little guitar up to stand in there with those guys actually talking to and performing with such a cool story. I was listening to an interview,
Randy Hulsey 40:25
I don't remember who it was with it could have been Glenn's daughter. And maybe it wasn't. But the story was something along the lines of in the later stages of Alzheimer's for Glenn. He couldn't remember a lot of the lyrics on stage. You know, we had to use teleprompters things of that. But they said he never
Jimmy Fortune 40:47
missed a lick on the guitar. Even in the later stages of Alzheimer's, he always knew the guitar parts. Well, it was second nature. As I asked him, you know, I said glad you said, How did you get back in the world? Did you get so good at playing guitar? He said, I went to bed with it in my hand. And I woke up with it in my hand. And I said, Of course I'm always struggling with, you know, I get nervous, and we're getting ready to go out and I get I have to clear my throat all the time. It's just a nervous thing. And I said, Do you ever have voice problems where you gotta clear your throat? You get nervous? He said, No. He looked at me like I was crazy. He said, No, I don't. And I thought, Man,
Randy Hulsey 41:36
I want to get to that. Sure. He
Jimmy Fortune 41:38
said, Yeah. And I'm nervous man. Every time I try to ask it all the time. Are you still getting nervous? I said some would say so. I am one nervous song we're gonna go I get ready to go out and do some I'm so scared. You would think I have to really make myself go put one foot in front of the other go do it.
Randy Hulsey 41:56
That's, that's that's an interesting story. And you know what is funny because that's what I love about the show. It exposes the human side of the people that we've looked up to are the people that we admire the people that we've listened to for years, thinking, you know, most listeners, including myself would think Jimmy fortune has played 1000s and 1000s of shows all over the world, no doubt. Right? Not not just in the States, but all over. How could anybody like you get nervous? You know that that would be the question, but we're at the end of every day, we're human, we still wake up and you get dressed and showered just like I do. And we're really no different. We're different people, but you have the same feelings and emotions that everybody else does. Right.
Jimmy Fortune 42:44
But I don't think Glen Campbell was you know, he was so good.
Randy Hulsey 42:50
Well, you know, I saw him play in on a video. I think he was playing gentle on my mind. And there was a lot of greats like Chet Atkins, and what was his name from he Hall, Roy
Jimmy Fortune 43:06
Randy Hulsey 43:07
know what color Roy Clark, thank you. I don't know, I was drawing a blank on that. But all these greats are in the room with him. And during the solo, he says, he says, I'm going to play one. And you know, he just went and improvise the solo. And every person in that room was just in awe of his playing. And these aren't, you know, people we didn't know, these are some of the greatest pickers in the world. The Chet Atkins, the Roy Clark's, you know, those guys are not shabby players, either. In their own rights.
Jimmy Fortune 43:37
No, they and the thing of it is just said, when I played around these guys, I played, I played with them and enabled with, with what I do, they would walk up and say, Man, I love your playing, they would they would give you a compliment early, and you think this is a joke. They didn't have to do that. Right? They didn't have to do that. Because I knew, you know, compared to them, I knew what I was like, a daggone, beginner to that console me. He came up, he said, I was playing this whole thing. And he started playing with something we did our TV show. And he walked over to SharePoint, do that again, he said, us if you want me to do something new, and he said, Yeah, that's interesting how you do that? So we were sitting around talking and others said, so what do you see that I could do to better myself as a player? I said, What kind of advice could you give me? And he said, Well, he said, and I'll never forget this. He said, You play pretty good for somebody that does everything wrong. And they tell acid I love does that accomplish that? Tell you? I'll tell you what I mean? He said. He said if you listen to what I had to say, and you take it to heart, he said I don't mean it's sort of bad but It's easier to do it right? Yes, than it is to do it wrong. I understand. Does that make sense? I said, Yeah, is it because if you learn how to do something, and you learn from it, and you don't, don't form those bad habits in which I told him, I said, I formed the law, bad habits, plan, you know, learning stuff off the records, and how do you do something, you don't have anybody show you anything, it just veered from where I was from. I just My dad told me three courts, and then I had to learn the rest of it by ear and, and then when you do things, you don't necessarily do things, right. And so I said, I know exactly what you're saying how to do it. Right. So you pick up that heads? He said, But if you do it right, and you learn how to do things, he said, always is going to be easier, because you always be thinking about that one place where you Have you struggled. And when you and you're thinking about it, when you get to it, it's not always gonna be an odd place for you to place. But if you do it, right, if you're going to it's going to flow in
Randy Hulsey 46:04
flow flow. Absolutely. His comment could be misconstrued as a negative, but it was really a positive comment. Right? That's what he
Jimmy Fortune 46:13
you know, he explained to make sure that he can't eat laugh, because they don't. He said, don't take it as I'm cutting you down. He's, I'm just telling you, it's easier to do it right. Wrong. Absolutely. So just think about that. And so I have thought about it, and I'm still doing it wrong.
Randy Hulsey 46:32
Well, they say you can teach an old dog new tricks while while learn how to do it right at this stage in the game, right? You know, if it's worked for you for
Jimmy Fortune 46:39
because, you know, I taught I got to talk to all these guys. I got to feel a man and and what it boils down to is these are all great all these great players. As they practice. They learned how to do it. And they they kept their guitar in their hands, almost all the shore, for sure. So like he said, you put in the time, absolutely. Put in the time, it will pay off. You don't get
Randy Hulsey 47:03
great by playing 30 minutes a day. Right?
Jimmy Fortune 47:06
Right. And I'm one of those. I'm one of those people that you know, I love playing I love my guitar and all that stuff. But I'm like, I can't walk through a room and not pick one up, start playing it. But don't sit down and practice strike strike hours
Randy Hulsey 47:21
and hours. I should
Jimmy Fortune 47:22
I mean, I should but I don't.
Randy Hulsey 47:24
Well, my son and I went to see Tommy Emmanuel, just recently. And he's Oh, yeah. And he said during his show that he played about 18 hours a day. I mean, literally every waking minute of the day, he had that guitar in his hand. And Jimmy it shows right up being that guy. You know, you think about the Glen Campbell's in the Tamia manuals, it's like they're on a they're in a solar system all by themselves, like you and I play or you and I play at it. Right? Those guys play those guys. Her or
Jimmy Fortune 47:57
someone said Tommy said, they said, I give my life to play like you. And Tommy said, I did give my life to me. Very interesting. Back when I went on my own night in 2002. I was asked to come to Minnesota State Fair play. They hired me to come there and play in Tama my way up, I get a call from from motor. He says. He said man, he said Have we got a guy who put on the show with you. She'll be open for you. He's a guitar player. And I said, I always say just guitar player. I said, Yeah. And he said his name is Tommy Manuel, and I didn't know who Tommy was at the time. So I said okay, so what I said he didn't say he just plays guitar. He said, Yeah, awesome. Okay. So we went up there. And I met him briefly talked to him a little bit, of course, from Australia, and I love that accent anyway, just a great person. He goes out there on stage and I wants to show I start hurting start playing as I was backstage, and I had to go and sit in what I had to go and sit and watch. And whenever I walked he finished his show and I went back to I had to come home after him right. I told him I said I've got six more shows to do this week. But from now on, I go well
Randy Hulsey 49:27
you're not following him ever again.
Jimmy Fortune 49:34
week we talked and we bonded that week. Matt Lewis Zappa. We use my app, and then for the week was already blew mine up too. So
Randy Hulsey 49:42
that's a great story. That's a great story. Game friends. That's awesome. He's a great player. And I didn't get turned on to him till a couple of years ago. But what a treat it is to listen to him but yeah, I wouldn't want to follow that guy either. So i i I agree with your sentiment there. Over the years, the Statler has released I don't know the count let's let's call it 5050 Plus albums. Is there a highlight in your 2021 years with the guys that sticks out in your mind is one of the most memorable moments during the stint with the Statler brothers.
Jimmy Fortune 50:27
Well when whenever i When would the standard both are they were passed the Johnny Cash stage had already done that and I also you know, I love Johnny Cash and I we were on the road and he was on the road and I was thought man I'm sure we'd like to meet him one day and it just never worked out like we were he was always doing something bad somewhere. We were somewhere close out here all the stories about John stuff like that and and we did a 30th anniversary of the Statler brothers we were on tnn on a cooking show. And they did the 30th anniversary as a tribute to the staff of Johnny Cash as they're getting that night imaging. And I met him I really met him for the first time that night. And I already been with the Statler brothers for about 10 years and got sang, sang it dancing bass, Jimmy Santana, you know, got to play. And I got to do that with him on stage. And I remember being so proud of that. And, and he was so kind to me, and so nice and and so years went by, we met a few times after that. But it would seem from time to time. And I was always one of those people that just kind of sit back and listen to the stories that they would tell they would talk. And they would talk about all things they did whenever they get together with see John a couple times before he died. And the last time was just a few months before he passed away. And and we went to see him and he was having some health issues. Were only a matter of fact I'm model as the crow flies from where his house was where I was at that night when I was talking to him. But his house burned down. It's just a foundation over there now. Anyway, we were talking and as usual, I was just kind of listening. And I was listening to the stories that they were telling them laughing at Johnny Jun and Harold field and Don. And so we were getting ready to leave. And we started to leave and walk out and as we were walking out, he said he said wait a minute, he said Jimmy, I guess I'm I want to say to you. And he put both hands on my shoulders. And he stood there and he looked at me and he was looking down at me Of course, because he saw dog. He's a Jimmy and set off. I just want you to know that Lou was our boy he said Luke when when most out of brothers. When Lou left the group, he said we may in June, we're pretty worried we were like, man, it just ain't never gonna be the same. It's just not how the world is if they're going to ever bring somebody into to fill in for Lou, that just ain't gonna happen. And he said, I just got to tell you. He said when I heard when I heard Elizabeth, I knew they were going to be alright. And he said, I want to say, I've never got to really know you spent enough time around you. He said but I wish I had known. How cool was that got to know you a lot better. Yeah. And I thought, Man, what a what a class thing to say? Absolutely. He says I want to I want you to know he said you've done a great job and we're just proud to, you know, to know you and that you you did you really? You did what you came up came to do certain staff members, and they helped you. You helped them.
Randy Hulsey 54:17
Yeah, I was gonna say it's one thing to hear that from just any old person. But to hear that from a legend, you know, probably meant a lot to you as an artist.
Jimmy Fortune 54:27
I'll never I'll never ever forget it. Never. Yeah. So you know, but I knew into psych all the things that I knew in my heart that people were thinking, like you said before, fans and everybody else that, you know, hey, nobody's gonna be coming in and taking blue. It's like this thing gonna happen. And I know that the people that knew him that loved him. And the thing of it is, I didn't come in there asking for that. I just came, they came to me and said, Hey, can you help us? And that's how it happened. I never meant to go in there. And I mean, if somehow someone would have said, if they would have come to me and said, Hey, we're following up and loot, you know, we don't want loot anymore. We just want him out the group. We want you to come in and take his place. I would have turned it down. That's tough. That's a tough because I That's not me. And that's not what I would do. I would just I just wouldn't want that. But when they said, Hey, loose, loose is I'm sick. I gotta be out for six months. Can you come in? Can you help us out? But I was all over. I guess you were. He was my hero. Yeah. And, but I never thought that. I always thought he would come back. Yeah. And because I knew, but I also knew that I couldn't walk away from it, because they'd given me a chance. They gave me a break. And I said, what what kind of person would I be to walk off and meet these guys now? You know? Absolutely.
Randy Hulsey 55:55
Well, when everything happens for a reason to and you were you were where you were meant to be and in the right spot at the right time. And just so happened to have the ability to fill those shoes. Right. And so all the stars aligned for you? Was it you guys specifically when you were in the Statler brothers that broke the harmonies up on your own? Did you have somebody else in the group that did that for you? Or were you guys inclined enough? And I'm sure you were right. To say, Okay, we need to break this up in four parts. Right? And you broke it up yourself? Were you kind of your own musical directors? Or did you have people that you hired to come in to help you with with the parts and whatnot?
Jimmy Fortune 56:44
No, we we actually worked it all. And we did the opposite enough. And we get around a table. And we had a guitar and a piano. And we would take a song, whether we wrote it or whether we it was somebody else's song. But if we wrote it, we would get in there and we would organize it and, and arranging. And we will try to hit course the same parts in what's some a certain song might suit someone's voice a little bit better. Most of the time was done because he was the lead singer. And he would sing the lead. We would work around it. But we'd always work. Not necessarily like Phil and I would switch off people saying baritone I sang tenor, but we would sometimes swap parts as to which what like I might jump to a baritone, baritone. And he would jump to a tenor, low tenor. And we would swap things out to hit our sweet spots in our voices to where we will maintain a quality you know a certain amount of, of whether you want to call it meet up, I'm sure a follow up to to try to keep the sound as as big as we could, as full as we could. So we might swap around and that's sort of the same tenor all the time I've swapped around to I do lead sometimes saying baritone and now saying tenor and he would tell you would say tenor and baritone sometimes Don would switch to baritone feel might sing a lead part every once in a while I'll do a lead like a low lead work around him you know we're always but we all did all of our own arranging everything interesting and yeah, and I
Randy Hulsey 58:32
was gonna ask you that if you guys were considered you know like an acquirer but of course in a choir you you probably have female voices soprano and alto but if for your situations it would have been more like a first and second kind of tenor and then a baritone and a bass was probably what you the parts you guys were singing in
Jimmy Fortune 58:52
right? Well Harold was so such a low bass. I mean he saying that I didn't have to be like us real high screaming tenor, you know? Some people know say they like compare me with gospel tenors or whatever. But um, when you hear gospel tenors, they can sing, you know, two or three steps over top of me. They're just up in the sky. Thank you. You know, I'm a high singer but I'm not like let's tenor singer that. It just happens to be that wherever my voice placement he is. It's it's the clearness of it I get that God you know, that's that's made the difference over the years it's like yeah, and they seem like the higher our push it the Claremont boys. Yeah. And that's kind of the thing that made me a little bit different, that kind of stuff down I guess. But, you know, it's one of those things that we would always play to our strengths and try to avoid our weaknesses. Yes. Which have not inherited where the to me they were the Beef, the meat of the of that big sound that handles the big voices you know. And so when you play so whether it's live or fail, or live and may or may and feel, we were kind of like those the little bit of the icing, and they were the cake they were they were the cake. We just got to work work around that. But the sound of the Statler brothers to me was apparently dawn with the big voices but with the the dressing on the on the icing on the cake was filled, blew in and then of course when when I came in and forgot to do my part yet. But to me those they had that distinct sound, there was big voices in there. And I don't think it's ever been Duke I don't think it will ever be duplicated.
Randy Hulsey 1:00:52
It was a unique sound for sure. And I kind of sing in that I probably have more of a baritone range. Myself and I've and wildlife Phil, certainly thankful that I can sing to the abilities in which I do. I always wanted to have that high tenor voice because I think it just fits in the pocket of an acoustic guitar so much more beautiful than uh, I mean, they all have their places don't get me wrong, but there's something about that angelic tenor voice that I think it's like anything No, Jimmy, like if I had a bass voice, you know, you'd want to have a tenor voice. If you had a tenor voice, you'd want to sing the low part. So we always want what we can. What we can't have or we can't do
Jimmy Fortune 1:01:35
with me. Oh, I've always wanted to sound like Vince Gill, and I could never accomplish that. He's, he's a one of a kind. He's got that beautiful, just stop just sweet, silky sound. He's one of my favorite singers in the whole wide world. Beautiful tenor for sure. There too. You always want what somebody else has. Absolutely.
Randy Hulsey 1:01:56
That's our that's our humaneness, I think Yeah.
Jimmy Fortune 1:02:00
But yeah, he had to me, he might not be the highest singer in the world, but where he's at, and his placement and where he seems it's so sweet. It is. And it was like the people in Cortez and in groups and stuff. That's, that's why it's so hard to come away from trying to make a place for yourself to do a solo career because people get used to hearing you in a group setting. And your singing tenor, that's what they want to hear. They want to hear that. They want to hear that high tenor and they want you to just firm you know, move on, you know, and and sometimes I like to sing a song. I like to drop it down and saying, just to sing the words and easy, simple way. And I don't necessarily like to be just reaching. Like, oh, I don't want to hear a high tenor sing all the time. Yeah. I mean, I like to hear, you know, avoid a lead voice that someone can take it down to a certain level. Absolutely. Okay, if it's high, but if it's how I laid it out, like I don't want to hear a bass singer all the time. But I don't mind hear it every once in a while.
Randy Hulsey 1:03:12
Absolutely. I'll follow the mindset. Now the Statler brothers, I think retired. What was it? 2002 ish? was the year this year? Yeah, it was was this kind of a? And I really don't know much background on it. So I really asked more for myself than the listeners. But I'm sure the listeners would like to know, too. Was this kind of more of a mutual decision of the guys in the group? Was it time to move on to other things? What what was kind of the premise behind
Jimmy Fortune 1:03:41
the retirement? I mean, I was kind of surprised at it myself. Because I thought we'd gone a little bit longer than that, to be honest with you, but they call a meeting of January of 1982. I mean, 2002 in January, right after Christmas. So when in the meeting, and then it was like, I mean, there had been any talk about timing, really, I had heard Harold mentioned it a couple times, you know, ask somebody, Hey, what's it like to be retired or whatever. And so when I went into the meeting up, they said, you know, you you're the first one we're going to tell this to we want you to know, this is going to be our last year, we're going to and I was sitting there need to imagine I mean, I just had built a house. Yeah, new home in Virginia and I had four kids in college. And I'm sitting there going, we're bored. I don't think I'm ready for
Adam Gordon 1:04:47
right? Do I haven't?
Jimmy Fortune 1:04:50
They said that I'm like, like so I'm like how soon is it? Well, October the 28th not twice a day. is going to be our last date in Salem, Virginia. And they said, they said, What are you going to do? And of all things, not long before that. My dad passed away back in the night in 1994. Of course, this was 2002. But I had dreamed about my daddy, a few months before that, had a dream, my daddy. And it was so real. And I hadn't had dreamed about it before, but not in this where we actually talk. And my daddy industry, I was standing backstage, and I was by myself. And I was pacing back and forth. And I was nervous. And it was like this door opened up in a bright light and let daddy walk through this door. He said, I bet you never thought you'd see me again. Did you board. And I just ran into him. And I held on to him, and he was crying. And I was like, Oh, my knees around his waist. I was holding on him. And I was saying, I was so glad to see him. And I was apologizing for all these things that I had done in my life to him. And he said, That's okay, so um, it's all right. He said, You gotta get out there and do it show you that you're on your own now. Listen, I'm on my own. And he said, Yeah, I woke up. And I remember just crying and sobbing. Why? And I was like, what did that mean? What did that mean? And then I thought about that dream when they said, What are you? What are you going to do? And I said, Well, I guess I'm going to just the only thing I know how to do this saying it play and I'm just going to continue on. So some way. And they were like, Whoa, ego. What do you want start Group A week ago, I said, Now, I will start a group. I said, I don't want to compete with stepbrothers. And Don gave me the best advice. I said, I'm scared about what we're gonna book. You know how to go bad and everything. And Don said, John said, well, Jimmy, just be you said, you can't be anybody else. He said, We loved Jimmy fortune when you walk through the door. That's why we hired you. And they said, if you just follow your heart be what you are. We feel like you can be okay. Yeah. And, and it wasn't easy. It wasn't easy. It was for a long time. But I couldn't be anybody else. I couldn't do anything else. And so 20 years later, make a good living. And it's been I mean, it's been awesome. It's been good. Although I miss miss them very much. But they got they've gotten to they got to enjoy their retirement and like Sahara passed away last year, Luke passed away back in 99. As if 52 years old. That's hard to believe was but I miss him and I miss Hyrule and Don Phillips still living and in other stand by the fact Don just came to my show back in Christmas at Christmas came to my show up in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He he sat down with his wife and he listened. And we talked before I went on stage, and then he listened to the show. And I came back on stage after the show was over, and Dom was in tears. And he was just standing there going, Man, I'm so proud of you. I'm so glad it's awesome. I'm so proud that you've done this. And I just he said, I just love your show. And, and we hug each other and talked and, and he was just precious, you know, he and him and I both said how much we miss her already now and he still can't believe he's got a lock and either because he's bigger than life failed. So he doesn't go out much he or she's at 82 this year. Yeah. And a Yeah, to be 83 this year, in August, August, August 8, but I talked to him quite a bit on the phone and we I tried to go by and see him when I can't but COVID was kind of afraid to be around each other because of you know, he's got he's got a fetal health issues. So stuff but but I'm just not there next week and I'm planning on getting with him at dawn and we're gonna try to get together.
Randy Hulsey 1:09:39
That's good. That'll be good for you. And for them. I'm sure I was a little taken aback by learning that Harold had passed last year. You know, I think we get caught up in life and we don't follow people and things and you know, we just kind of live life and as I was kind of preparing to, to have you on the show I Did my you know my share of time reading and looking into things? And I realized that he had passed and I had no idea that that that he had so well, sorry to hear that.
Jimmy Fortune 1:10:13
I think parole was pretty reserved. He didn't. Matter of fact, I think he was having a lot of problems. I know he was, when we before we retired, we're going on stage. And there were things with him that he didn't complain, he just either side struggle with things and health wise, you know, that I didn't know how bad it was. Dawn and Phil, I don't think they really did. I mean, they knew what he was doing to the hospital and everything. But he, his kidneys were failing. And he was supposed to go on dialysis. And I think he tried it for a little while. But then eventually he just said, I don't want to do this. I don't want to do dialysis. And it was his choice. He said, You know what I've lived I've had a good life. And I've lived and I mean, we talked like that two weeks before we actually went on hospice. And we sat and talked and we laugh. And I mean, cut up carrying on, like, we were sitting on front of the bus. We had the best time talking. And I thanked him, you know so much for for them giving me braking, and for all the things that they had done, you know, for me, and then he said, Jimmy, he said, what I want to thank you for what you did for us, he said, he said you came along at a time when we needed something, we needed some more. And we and we were going we're struggling and he said and he said you did a great job. And I want to thank you. So we had this conversation is just beautiful, beautiful conversation. And I hung up with him. No, that would be the last time that I got to talk to him that I was keeping in touch with his family because he was on hospice and that the wheel, the Son and the girls telling me at the funeral went to the funeral. They said it was so something he was Herald right up until the past place. The day that he passed away. He built hospice and he'd been out for for about we just hadn't said anything just kind of laying there. You know? They said he came to me he looked around he said, You mean I'm still here? I thought I'd be gone they all laugh and they said that was it? Well, they said it's okay Dad, it's okay to go and and he did I still can't believe Yeah, well
Randy Hulsey 1:12:45
he he certainly leaves a legacy behind the the great music and and the fun you guys had over the years and I know that he will definitely be missed by you guys and and the fans. So again, sorry to hear hear about the loss there. But I mentioned a little bit in the intro that you were part of three different Music Hall of Fame's while you know, some musicians never, never come close to see on one Hall of Fame, let let alone three while being inducted to to three Hall of Fame's, and I'm sure they're all very special to you, but was there maybe one and you can certainly plead the fifth on this? Because some people just don't like showing partiality to one or the other. But was there one that meant more to you than the other? Or were they all unique in their own? Right?
Jimmy Fortune 1:13:39
Yeah, they're all unique in their own right, because we got inducted first into the Virginia musical hall of fame. And I mean, that was an incredible thing in itself. Well, we were of course the group was going gangbusters at that time. And we're still in full force, but still to have that honor. Your state homestate honor you like that. Of course after the stepbrothers retired. We were talking about things and and I remember we had discussion about all things and stuff and we said, we were like sitting around and they you know how things nice, you know, they said, most people never make it in half. Listen, we probably will never be in the Hall of Fame. I said, I don't know. I said I think y'all deserve Hall of Fame myself. I said, y'all deserve it. Maybe before I came along, y'all deserve the whole thing. And and I told him, I said, I said Harold look, I said, Now this is I said, I said I really feel this. I said you you guys accomplished so much with looky loos in the group. I said if you do get offered the Hall of Fame, and I'm not included in that I said Don't Don't you guys hold back for one minute because I said you You all deserve the Hall of Fame. And I said I was in a different era. And I said it probably wouldn't happen with me. But I said, if it happened for you all and lose, I said, I want you all to do and not think twice about it, because I'm gonna be so happy for you all. And he said, well, a little buddy. Medusa said, if, if you don't go into the whole thing, we don't go into the whole thing. Yeah. And that's what he told me. And then, of course, that was after, you know, they had retired. And in 2007. Harold called me up. He said, he's a little buddy. So yeah, he said, Are you sitting down? And I said, I said, Well, I can't sit down. He said, What do you got to sit down? He said, You just got inducted into the gospel music hall thing. And I mean, we were all this. Man, we were so excited. And we went down here to Nashville to be inducted and ran all these great gospel singers and said there, man, this is so great. You know, I couldn't believe you know, I don't know, we were just on a high. And, of course, we came back and we're all thinking about that for the next year or whatever. Then in 2008, I get another call. Little buddy, you said? I said no. Again, he said, You're a little but it's a but he said something else. He said, is in the Country Music Hall of Fame. I was like, Oh, my God, it's so unbelievable. Just, you know, how all this stuff happened? And you know, I mean, we could we're still living. Yeah, you know, we could
Randy Hulsey 1:16:47
not even you're not even dead yet. Right. And you're getting the things.
Jimmy Fortune 1:16:52
So, yeah, we went to that. And it was just unbelievable. I can't, we're their families were there. And it was just so moving. And then, you know, after all, that's done. And then in the last, the last few years, I get a call from the Virginia musical hall of fame. And they inducted me into Virginia musical hall of fame as a solo artist. And they told me when I did this, you're the only one to sit here twice. You're in here with the staff blows and you're here by yourself. And and it was such an honor. I'm like I said, Are you kidding me? I mean, God still blessing me with all these blessings. And I just, I this game, you know, can't believe it lands you said, you know, to even be in one whole thing. And you're alive is a something, but
Randy Hulsey 1:17:45
Well, I think it would be cool to be great. Yeah, I mean, just to be nominated for the Hall of Fame would be a treat in and of itself, right? Just to know that somebody even considered you to be in the Hall of Fame. What would be, you know, a treat in and of itself?
Jimmy Fortune 1:18:03
Yeah, these are just some blessings that you just can't figure out and. And every time I do, every time I do go to a moment of something like that. I picture that little boy picking up their guitar. If not, what if you've never done it? Right? Just say it like it was yesterday.
Randy Hulsey 1:18:27
That's a deep thought. I mean, it's it's a deep thought to think where would I have been without such a remedial little thing? A little instrument like that, you know what I mean? And that then that guitar was probably not worth a dime, either, you know, but it it made a difference. Absolutely. It did. For you shortly after the retirement you embarked on a solo career, and I believe, I believe there to be roughly what nine full length records that you did, starting with a 2003 release called when one door closes. And then you had another one called, sings the classic that I mean, if I remember correctly, it was released sometime around 17. But that would you did quite a few. Or maybe they were all covered. You can educate me there. But you did some covers by some of the greats like, you know, Kenny Loggins, John Denver bread and the Eagles. The the list kind of went on and on. How big of a fan were you have John Denver.
Jimmy Fortune 1:19:39
I was very, very big fans out there. I should do a lot of his stuff. Matter of fact, when Katrina come out, we were playing on Moose Lodge in Charlottesville, Virginia. I heard I heard the song. Two days before that I was listening to I loved hearing it on radio and went bought the wreck. If I was playing this Moose Lodge insists this man came up and he was waving $100 bill. I'd never had even seen her dollar bill. I mean, it's my first real underdog.
Randy Hulsey 1:20:13
There wasn't Monopoly money, right?
Jimmy Fortune 1:20:17
He said, If y'all play that, John Denver saw that new country roads take me home. He said, I'll give you all boys, this $100. Man, I laid into that thing. I knew the course. But didn't really know. I made the verses to just, I was just making them up as I went along. And he didn't even know that. He gave us that 100 off. He was a little bit drunk.
Randy Hulsey 1:20:41
And for sure that always
Jimmy Fortune 1:20:46
taken home, you know, yeah. But we got that $100 bill. And I mean, and I was a big fan of John embryo. Ever since that point on, I really, I really did. I just thought he had a lot of talent. And I loved his songs I love to play and I love just writing. Anyway, I was very, very upset. You know, he was he was killed. Yeah, and, and everything. But I found out from someone in his camp, that he was getting ready to do a patriotic out grilling, and he had picked out more than they want a wall. It's one of the songs. It's so put on that
Randy Hulsey 1:21:24
what an honor. And
Jimmy Fortune 1:21:26
I'm like, Are you kidding, this happened? He said, now it's that was one of the songs that he was trying to do. And I was like, just to know that even thought of that, you know, was this enough for me? Absolutely. I was a big fan. Yeah, of course, I'm a fan of all the songs that I did on that record book versus Glen Campbell's on there. There's all kinds of it was a class exam, I was on the Gators label. And and they had approached me about, you know, they're not just gospel, they do a little bit of, they're kind of ventured into some other things as well. I try to do positive music, everything I do in my songs, there's going to be something that's not anything negative that, you know, I'm not going to be proud of that my mom and daddy wouldn't be proud of to hear me saying. So all of those songs kind of shaped my life. And these are songs that I actually put out a message to my fans to write in and say, oh, what songs they wanted me to do. And then I kind of did a tally of which ones I got the most votes on. And so the fans kind of helped me pick the songs out for that record. And then I'll just come when Ben Isaac's produced it. But I had my first album was when one door closes, because it really was a big door was closed. Sure, I've called it that. But the door was was actually there that I had to open to go to the next phase of my life. Sure. And so that's what that was all about. And then my next was a gospel album call happily. And I wrote a song that was inspired by my mother's passing away. And I felt like, you know, her prayers were, were being answered in my life. And I missed her so much. I still miss her today. But she was such a prayer warrior. She really was she prayed for us kids all the time. Her family, not just us, but brands and everything. She just a wonderful woman. And so that's almost kind of was inspired by her. And then I had another how cold windows. People say, are you building a house? Maybe I am right. And then I had one called lessons. And I had one call feels like Christmas which was one of my Christmas album. And then of course with the head hits and hymns, which was my first project on Bill Gaither, which is it debuted on the country charts at billboard number 10. And it was the DVD was number one on Billboard across all genres. And one adult award with the same with Oak Ridge Boys on lash row with him after that. And then I did a album a couple of years ago. Let's see Oh, God and country, which, which just one out of the year last year for country bluegrass roots album, okay, by the year last year.
Randy Hulsey 1:24:54
I think that was God and country that was like a 2019 release. It was an okay
Jimmy Fortune 1:25:01
might have been before that okay. Yeah it had to be because I did my brother loves my latest product was 2020 Mike Rogers breaded Walker and we released that right for COVID but before COVID hit and when COVID came along but it's been a really big big success it really has sold sold a lot been a Cracker Barrel for a couple years now. So I guess God country must have been 17 must be satisfied backdate?
Randy Hulsey 1:25:36
Well, I think I had it written down 17 was sings the classics. And then in the 19 was God and country and then 2020 was brotherly love, I think right but I think in night in 19 when you did the garden country, there was a song on there that I'd actually like to play a short clip of for the listeners it was a song called Meet me at Arlington and I'll play a quick clip of that Jimmy and we'll come back and chat for just a second if that's okay with you. Yeah, standby.
almost hear the story of the lives they left behind. Names and Numbers etched in stone here before their time when you see the King song rolling and you hear the music play when you see your child kneeling by their fallen father's Green Man if that don't change I don't understand. Because if you can't see from where you are then from where I
I'll introduce you to my son and baby then you'll know just how I feel
Whitestone that 400,000 strong arms that never really live in all the mammal brain he'll come back to me with no win and my heart he never the town and that she feels the same way me
Randy Hulsey 1:27:52
that was a song called Meet me at Arlington off the 2019 release called God and country. I've had the the honor to stand at Arlington and what what a breathtaking play what a breathtaking place that is. And I never you know, in your song you mentioned 400,000 strong I never knew what the count was. But the vision there is amazing because it doesn't matter where you stand or where you turn, all of those headstones are in perfect line. And it's it's a again, it's an honor and a treat to be in there with with so many fallen heroes. share with the listeners a little bit behind you know the meaning of the song. And I think that you had co written this maybe with it's my understanding of is Dave Clark, a neighbor and a partner of yours is that correct? Talk to us a little bit about the song and about your work there would
Jimmy Fortune 1:28:51
they have so many lives I said before God things has happened in my life and all things when I moved to Nashville 18 years ago, I moved in next door to I didn't know who live next door to me. But one of the most prolific songwriters in Christian music, Dave Clark, and he's written like 26 Number one songs, written some books. Matter of fact, he's writing a book on my life. Now. As time goes on, we get to meet each other on your mobile to grasp when they creep between our house talking and sharing some things I find out he's a songwriter, he finds out who I am and we just get together and we write a few songs here and there. Well, I was in my stand in my kitchen one morning and my doorbell rang and there was Dave and he'd come over he had on Pete recorded on his phone. There was it was watching the news on TV and it was this so Goldstar mom, who was watching this it was on the news because she had lost a son in Afghanistan. As he was watching this news clip of a professor putting down this young man because he was wanted to be a soldier because his dad was a Marine and, and this professor was putting him down and putting down the United States of America, putting down our country and just saying why you're an idiot for wanting to be a soldier, what's wrong with you? And, and some horrible things that the guy 70 Wow, listen to watch did on this. And it made me so mad. I had to turn it off. And he said, and but then, but then he said, You got to hear what she says. I said, Okay. So then a character turns it back on. And I said, so they asked her how she felt about what this man had said. And she said, I wish she could meet me at Arlington. And I could introduce him to my son. Maybe he knows and right then I said, You know what? We got to write that right now. We can't let it go by we gotta write the song right now for so we did. And, and it's really become a really, really big song just dislike more than Mr. Wall. I mean, it's been such a big song over the years, realizing the sacrifice. I mean, and I know. We hear a lot about it. But But man, I hope we never stopped thanking our veterans, for what the sacrifices that they've made, because it really it. The way I feel about it. I tried to join a service years ago was I wanted to serve my country, I tried to join Air Force. Well, I didn't make I didn't get in. And so I thought, well, maybe I can do something, maybe I can, I want to do something for veterans, because I'll just disrespect them. I love you money. And so I thought the least I could do is maybe write a song because because it's like this veteran, to me, it's like you're getting ready to, to walk across the street, and it's a busy street and, and the chances of you getting hit, to get to the other side are really, really good. Like, you make it to the other side, you're going to be lucky. Blessed you make sure. And to me, a veteran like that a veteran walks up and says, Hey, no, you don't go, I'll go, I'm gonna go take this chance. I'm gonna go do this for you. You stay here. You just enjoy the country, you just enjoy the United States of America. You're I'm going and I'm going to fight and I'm gonna give my life for you. That's what it is. Absolutely. It is and, and to degrade that in any way, is the most despicable thing I think anybody could ever do. Because the law states of America, it has a lot of false. I mean, don't get me wrong. But we are still the greatest country on Earth really are I mean, because we have freedoms we have. And I hope and pray that we continue to have. I mean, I hope that we're not the full words that we were built on, as in God, we trust. And I feel like if we, if we ever neglect that sauce, then I think we're gonna be in trouble. But as long as we are a country that believes in God and has morals and looks out for the downtrodden in this world, those that that and we try to help others and do the right thing. I think we'll be fine. Yeah, and I agree.
Randy Hulsey 1:33:51
Yeah, I'll do that. But yeah, well, I agree. I agree with you wholeheartedly.
Jimmy Fortune 1:33:58
I just think we just need to come together. It's easier said than done. We need to love each other and, and respect one another's opinion, whether it's not my opinion, and I respect other people's opinions. I will listen, I don't have to agree with it. But sure. You know, I will listen,
Randy Hulsey 1:34:16
I agree with you. And everybody needs to take that approach, too. There's been a few songs that you've written that pay tribute to our fallen vets. The other one that comes to mind is the one titled more than a name on the wall. This is one of my all time favorite songs and it's an extremely powerful song and I would like to share that with the listeners and we'll come back and chat with that one as well.
It really missed the family home on Christmas Day, and he died for God in a place far away I remember just playing or since he was three this time around he's not coming home to me she sent me that so much to see here just so at the moment he's name
Randy Hulsey 1:36:15
that's such a powerful song I, Harold's voice is really strong in that in that song with yours, you can it really shines in there. And years ago, I took the guitar over to my mom and dad's house, I think it must have been Thanksgiving, and I played some various songs for them, and I decide to hopefully not try to make a mess of that song, then I wound up playing it and it's it's tough to get through it has a lot of meaning to it. And if you get inside of that song, and you really, you know, if you if you really get to thinking about those words, while you're singing it, it can put a knot in your throat. And it was tough for me to get through all I have to admit that but what a wonderful song and the thank you so much for writing such a lovely tune. How did that song come about? Was it kind of along the same lines as meet me at Arlington? Or what were the thoughts behind that one?
Jimmy Fortune 1:37:16
Well, I had a satellite appointment with a friend of mine, a guy by the name of John Rambo, we were going to be we were writing to write together some and I had seen on TV where, you know, they were building the wall, they built the wall of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC and there and there was controversy about it. I was like, what how can it be controversial about them, and I will understand, I was watching it and seeing it on TV See and all that stuff. And I had to make a trip up there. And I saw it and for myself, and I submitted it Is it at all memorials and I you know, sit there and listen to some of the stories. I could have written 10 songs a day. That's probably what I taught. I called my friend, John acid becoming home and I set up got an idea for this song says just profound statement more than more than a name on a wall. And so that's what we're going to write. So we set the call man, we got there and we talked and but then we went out to eat lunch and we ran into some of one man that had served in Vietnam and him his family was eating at this restaurant where we were talking to him. And he was telling us some things and we said we're getting ready to write a song and we're gonna pay tribute to the Vietnam veterans have always had a soft place in my heart because I had a friend of mine that I worked with for years. I mean, they were hurry to terrace was his name. And he's told me the story a long time ago about you know, he was in Vietnam and he stalled out his friends get killed. And he said he was he had a lot of close calls and. And he had tears in his eyes when he was talking about it. He couldn't even talk about a lot of what he said, you know, he said that was hard. But she said you know what the hardest thing was, I said, What's at home, he said, When I came home, he said some of my friends were with me. Some of them didn't have arms and legs. They said we came off the airplane and we were all dressed in our and every everything that we saw our uniforms, were proud to be coming home. He said we were going off the airplane and going down the ramp going into and he said there were people lined up on both sides spitting on us and calling us all kinds of names, customers and everything. And he said that was the hardest part of all that. He said but you know what I did? I said what? He said I went and signed up for two more tours he went by. And that tells you about the American soldier about the the real Americans that that's what America is really about. Yes. And, and it gave them the right to protest, they had the right to do that. But they didn't have the right to spill them right to customers. They didn't have that. I mean, they did it. But, man, what
Randy Hulsey 1:40:31
disheartening to hear
Jimmy Fortune 1:40:31
that, and I just had to at some point, I had to write a song that would, that would say, hey, they're more. They're more than a name on a wall. They're more than then did someone even do went and laid, you know, sacrificed everything for us, because there's so much more than just being a person. And there's so much more than just having your name on the wall. A mother gave birth to that child that went off school for the first time, eventually off to war, and never came home. Yeah. And I know that in other wars, World War Two, they all they all fought for the same reasons. And yet, these guys were, were put down and it was so political, and it was made so political, and it was so wrong. But they they gave their lives for the same reason. Yeah, and it's, you
Randy Hulsey 1:41:23
know, I mentioned earlier, it's, it's amazing, Stan, Arlington. But I've also stood in front of that very wall that you sing about. And it is flabbergasting, the number of names on that wall, you know, until you've ever stood in front of the one in Washington DC. It's, it's a moving experience for sure. And
Jimmy Fortune 1:41:44
I have been it's come up every night. And the ones that really get me are the ones that can't get a word out. There stand their lips are trembling. Tears are coming from their eyes, and they're trying to say something to me. And I'll just reach out and grab them. I'll hug them or say, you know, grab their hand and say, Thank you. And all the Vietnam Veterans always say Welcome home. Welcome home to because we love you, and we cherish you, and thank you for what you did for us. Absolutely. And I've had a few stories where I had this one family that came up pushing this man in a wheelchair legs were gone. And they sit down. Jimmy father wants to wants to tell you something. And know what it is he because he wouldn't talk where he was in Vietnam. He wouldn't even tell they wouldn't even tell him what was about they wanted to talk to me. So I said, Yes, sir. I said, so what is it and he said, he said, Well, I've been wanting to tell this to someone, but he said I haven't found anyone that I wanted to tell it to until now. But when I heard when he said when I heard more than Mr. Wall, he said I knew someone cared. He said, I want to tell you the story. He was in charge of the spittoon. And he was a sergeant he was in charges to turn his men like somebody man that he was in charge of. He said, I got injured. Really bad. As you can see, he said, what he said they took me to the helicopter. He said they put me on the gurney. And he said, It took him like 20 minutes to tell me this. Because he was crying so much. And he was what he said, as a helicopter lifted off. He said, How did he set up automatic? He said, I didn't want to go I didn't want to leave my man. I thought so I just didn't want to leave it there. And he said, but as the cattle got through was going up, he said i i was able to just turn over enough. I look back. And he said when I did, he said I saw all my men just destroyed. Like they just hold the follow. He saw saw mowed down, everyone on reset. And he cried and he bought his family was crying. I was crying. And and they were saying he hasn't talked about this. He said in real time he told him that. And the stories that you just don't realize it just like God, they're impactful. What they went through, you know, and then the fact that we have had this country that we take it for granted. Oh my god. But I am proud to be from the United States of America because of those veterans and what they've done. Absolutely. I wish I could do more.
Randy Hulsey 1:44:36
Yeah. Well, we all contribute in our own ways. Some of us are. Some of us don't have the courage to be a soldier. But some of us have the talents to write songs, right and we all contribute in our our own ways. Back in 2020 there was a new album that was released and it's a new project
Jimmy Fortune 1:44:57
called brotherly love. Talk to me a little bit
Randy Hulsey 1:45:01
about the three guys that you joined forces with. And how this group came to
Jimmy Fortune 1:45:05
be. Well, Ben Isaacs is, is of course, he's on the grip at the Asics and he's been associated with the gator organization for a lot of years. And he's a producer also plays bass and he plays sings with this family that has expenses, sister, so Sonia and Becky and his mom, Lily, they make up the Isaac's, which is one of the most iconic gospel groups, Premier gospel groups, I guess, in the world. They're so good. It's unbelievable. And then good people on top of it. I ran to Ben some years ago. And he would always say, Hey, man, I want to I want to produce the project, don't you not think he was kidding? Because I was like, Oh, my God be nice. It's, you know, he just associated with the best of the best. So eventually, we got to do an MMA records. And we got to, and as we did a few years ago, we good friend of mine, Mike Rogers, which is a very talented person as well. He was playing downtown at some of the clubs downtown, and he would invite, of course, being to come down and and play with him sometimes down there. And so he'd been a friend of mine out, they would invite me down, and I'll go play with. And then eventually, they would ask a guy by the name of Mr. Bradley Walker to come down. And he sat down with him from time to time with all of us. Thanks, saying. So Ben, got this idea of saying, hey, I want to put together a group, a kind of a quartet thing. But not just a quartet, someone that could do do ads to make it do trio, some I could do solo, somebody could do what you can do. And you could do all John, all kinds of genres of music. Sure. And he said, I want you and I want Bradley Walker, and I want Mike Rogers to do this. And, and again, I thought he would just kind of kid like, man, you know, I don't know if that's it. Let's give it a try. Let's just get together and see what we come up with, you know, so we got together it bands house one night. And we were putting songs together and we started going out in the world, what are some songs that's impacted you what are some groups it's, in fact do it and mood you and and, and so we just got to singing the songs and kind of like your standard rules, we've got to ration you know, their own arrangements and, and do the same thing, the same kind of thing that the status did when we put songs together, it was almost identical to that. And then it kind of made me reminisce about, you know, the status of other days and, and how it was, and it was just kind of like that same feeling almost. I almost had that kind of same feeling back, you know, and it was really cool. Because I love these guys so much we'd be we have become like brothers. And so we got together and we put this CD together. And then an endo we did a lot of DVD at WaterFix place down in Colombia. And they gave their organization put that out and, and boy, it's just taken off like gangbusters. I don't know the numbers on it now. But I know it's way up there. And I know, we get a lot of requests, and we do a few shows here and there. But the thing of it is we're all involved in our own career. And then you know, bands, got the Asics. Brad, he's got his own career with Ricky Skaggs and nice doing on the road with him. But we, from time to time, we tried to do some shows, and we put put some things together. And matter of fact, we're working on a new project right now we just got together last time getting ready to release another another project. Alright. Oh, and I think we, I think we've picked like 17 songs already. But we, we've got like, we got people writing in, do this, I'll do that song and we're trying to pick the songs for but it's, it's again, it's just a blessing. And it's it's really one of the most fun things I've ever done in my life, musically. Yeah. And it's so rewarding to be with the guys of this caliber that they benzo a wonderful producer. He's a great musician. Of course a great Samer. And then Mike was one of the premier musicians in this town saying are two singers well, and then Bradley has this beautiful voice I mean, he just has this I don't know it's He's anointed I don't know where else to put it. Because we found out he can say base we didn't know what you said base we knew was the low leaks and lo and behold, he's got this base force. And it's a real not just blow but it's cutting you know, cutting edge Ah to it and the blend blend of it all is it's pretty magical yeah and I think if you I don't know if you've heard some of it oh yeah probably for sure. It's I mean I think I think everybody's you know great in our own way and whatever they do but when we put a put us all together there's something pretty special about Yeah,
Randy Hulsey 1:50:24
well I think Harold was exception an exception to the rule when I say that
Jimmy Fortune 1:50:31
if you looked at Harold you could say
Randy Hulsey 1:50:33
I could picture him as a bass singer right but but why I've often thought Why is it always the guys that don't look like they have the low voice like like Bradley and you know the there's others that come to mind too but it's always the guy that doesn't look like they would be have that deep of a voice that always have that that resonating powerful low in voice it's interesting how that
Jimmy Fortune 1:50:59
works. You know, the blend is just magic like each one of us. Don't think like we individually could could be like a superstar or whatever you might want to say but put us all together. And there's something that just like the Statler brothers had that sound that that it was you know, yeah, not it can't be duplicated.
Randy Hulsey 1:51:28
Well, you you guys harmonize beautifully together. I've watched a lot of the clips here in the last few days. Especially, I really enjoyed the the daddy thing bass, you know that that was a nice little jam that you guys did there. I do want to share a short clip of an old Statler brothers song that you guys actually reworked. It happens to be one of my favorites off the triple platinum seller is the song called Class of 57. So take a quick listen to that and we'll come back and chat.
Tommy selling us cars. Nancy's fixin. Harvey runs a grocery store and Marguerite does. Jerry drives a truck for Sears in Charlotte zone. And Paul sells life insurance and part time real estate.
Helen is a hostess freight Port Said Janet teaches grade school in Bromley always works for the city of Jackson leverage search, Peggy plays organized the Presbyterian Church and the class of 57 had history. We all thought we change the world with our great words. Or maybe we just thought the world would change the last 57 had it's
Randy Hulsey 1:53:09
it never matters how many times I listened to that song it always puts a smile on my face. And even though I didn't grow up in the 50s back when it seemed like life was a lot easier back then. But I did always brings a smile to my face. And I always wanted to ask and always wanted to know if the characters in the song were were they fictitious characters or were they actual people that they wrote about?
Jimmy Fortune 1:53:36
You know, the thing about this will tell you what great writers that Tyrone Don and Luke were and failed to win they were filled with, right? Every person in that song is a real person that did exactly what they said it did in that song. Wow. Now, and that was amazing. I didn't even know that until after I was with them. I had no idea. And they were telling me about that. And it just kind of blew me away. But it also has one of my favorite lines in the whole of any song ever is. Things get complicated when you get past 18 Bonet when I heard that line in that song, I was like wow. Yeah, they really really do. Yeah. And you know, if you're gonna accept life and take life by the by the by the horns and and try to ride it, then it's gonna be a complicated. No, I don't know me. Many people that can say it's not but it sure does. I agree with him, but to write about it and have everybody in that. It paints a picture and that picture continues on why today because I know some of those people that are in that in that song. A lot of them are gone. Yeah, they'll include an arrow and they lose. But the fact that they wrote Kurt Vonnegut, the famous poet writer said that the Statler brothers were America's poets. As he said, the songs that they had written these are songs before I came along. And I said even before me, they accomplished so much. And if you ever listened to the Holy Bible, I say wrote the Bible from beginning to end. If you ever listen to that project, it's just incredibly read the songs that are big four that are genius, really genius, when you sit down think about, like, say that I got to be a part of something that was pretty daggone special. Yeah, that I was a little bit of a part of it. And I felt like I was just honored to be able to be there and do it and experience it with these guys. Because I when I think about myself, there's so many people to me, that are so much more talented than I am so much more in so many ways, but fact that I was the one that got to be there. Got to experience it. I still can't believe Yeah.
Randy Hulsey 1:56:24
Kudos to you. And I don't think it would have changed my love for the song one way or another had they been you know, not real people but I it's a pretty powerful Well, it's pretty powerful to find out that they were real people. I think you'll listen to the song in a whole different way. Like wow, these were real people. And it makes the song have even more meaning than it did yesterday when I didn't know if they were real people or not. So it's interesting to find find out about that run
Jimmy Fortune 1:56:54
up on somebody you know, you know, I'm I'm betting a song bass pitch seven I bet. Somebody you know, you know, and Freddie really didn't take his life well, or, and it was all those three things that really do that.
Randy Hulsey 1:57:11
They're all immortalized in the in the song.
Jimmy Fortune 1:57:14
scars. Nancy sticks in here. Yeah. RV runs a grocery store. doesn't care. Yeah. Jerry drives a truck for stairs and Charlotte cellmate also flies for church insurance and part time real estate now. I mean, all those things. I was doing it so somebody had requested it one night and and I said, Well, you know, I don't I said, you know this a lot. I said, there's a lot of words in the sausage. It was four of us that did this for us, and we could keep track of what we did. And then and then I said, Okay, I'll try it. So I started playing it, you know, and I was fumbling my way through it, but I was getting the word but I got to the last verse. I got to to Harold's part. And you know, of course the Herald says, Linda Merritt, Sunday Brenda, Mary made class ALL OF US history. So I did the last verse. I said, I said John is big and Gail raised deep in debt amavis finally went up as anybody's bid say and then I changed it because I had a sister named Linda random. And so I said Linda Mary Larry, random marriage Sam. After all these names I've forgotten who
Randy Hulsey 1:58:35
will try to remember all that is is a is a chore in and of itself. I was gonna say that's the Statler brothers version of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot. Right. And I had a buddy years ago that that performed that song live and he did it without the aid of anything to remind him of the words and I always told him Mark i i will always be impressed that you were able to remember every word and and sing those verses in the right order because the song goes on and on and on and on and much like classes 57 Even though there's it's not a long song there's there's a lot of people in the in the song and you have to correlate those people to the event right. So so you have to remember all those things. Were really worried you know, Randolph
Jimmy Fortune 1:59:25
Scott whatever happened to Randolph Scott rather trailer or whatever have to genatech trophy Rex over the rainbow kill. Whatever happened right now Scott is horse playing as they put it rapidly right now Scott is having to the best of me. And then all these things, whatever happened to John Mack Brown Allen, rocky lane, whatever happened to last through I'd love to see them again. Whatever avenues volunteering at Tim Holt and Gene Autry. Yeah, whatever happened to all of these has happened to the best of me. I mean, all those things have to remember all that for sure. Yeah,
Randy Hulsey 2:00:00
well, it is important that you remember him in that order because you know, the fans know him in that order. And then they're not gonna let you forget those things, right.
Jimmy Fortune 2:00:09
That was and that was thing and step but show the sound brother fans were when they came to a show. You get five standing ovations every night. Yeah. When you were going to get them you know, whenever we're gonna calm you know when that and you knew where everything was going to happen because they sit there and you can see that it's funny to look out there and see 1000s of people and see their mouse movement or to see what the words the whole time. And you're sitting there going whoa, out in the world. Yeah, that was amazing. Oh, yeah. It's it really was an amazing career. It was amazing. Time. And I can't believe it's been 20 years. I just can't believe it's just, it is absolutely blowing my mind.
Randy Hulsey 2:00:49
Tom, Tom gets away from us. We look back in the rearview mirror. And it's like, wow, all these years have passed. And, and I think the older we get, the quicker it seems to pass. You know, it's kind of funny how that works. Talk to the listeners. Just briefly, before we wrap up about your upcoming tour, whether it be with brotherly love or a solo act. What do you have coming up for the listeners that might be looking to maybe catch out on the road somewhere?
Jimmy Fortune 2:01:22
Well, we were supposed to be on the cruise this week. We're doing the time like country music opera cruise this week, but it was cancelled because of art not canceled because of COVID. And I think it'll be in March sometime now and I can't be on the printer. But I'm gonna try to fly down to Mexico and do a show. I'll go on the ship and do a show for the fans that did come to on there and see me. But we're traveling all over the country. We're gonna be all over the Bay out west, starting out of Utah, and I'll be out in Arizona, and then we'll be working our way back. We're going to be all over the United States this year. You know, just getting trying to get back to normal that things don't shut down again. I hope maybe they don't but, but definitely things have changed this COVID thing happened here to last few months. Just got to back up again. Yeah, but we're hoping to get back to some normalcy but the brotherly love project we did with Fortune Walker Rogers Isaacs, we will be touring and Easter. If you look on my website to fortune.com you'll see our schedule. I think we got three shows in I know when I was in Indiana. Yes. Coming up around Easter Easter weekend.
Randy Hulsey 2:02:41
It's April sometime I believe, right? Yeah, yeah.
Jimmy Fortune 2:02:43
So if you look on our website, you'll see that and then you you'll catch that and we're gonna probably do on some of the the brotherly love project. We're also probably gonna throw in some of the new songs that we're working up for a new project and then if you come to a Jimmy 14 show, I have I have two wonderful actually three ones for musicians. I have Billy James playing bass play bass for the Statler brothers. He was with the Sabbath long before I came along. He's like my best friend and a heavy Monterey with being also have a girl by the name of Miss Abby Phillips who is up she's 19 years old, but she's a she's just a great place fiddle for maybe she also plays guitar, mandolin, Banjo, bass dobro. She's just a phenomenal talent and saying, like a bird. A guy named Jake Vanover is playing guitar with me. He used to be with all awesome for a while. And he's a young kid that's just a great guitar player and a wonderful singer. Now both of them are starting to write songs and I'm pushing them in that direction and I write some great songs. But also have them and if you come see me, I kind of celebrate our country or celebrate our veterans or celebrate the Statler brothers. I also take people on a journey from my beginning to where I started in Virginia, to take them through talking about my time zone rule establishes my time singing with my family, my time singing with the groups and in Virginia some of the conversations we had tonight. And I open up for questions sometimes for the audience to ask me something they want to know that step both of our mountainy and sometimes that can get me in trouble. But I've got to be a little careful with that. But, but But I tried to. We end up every night with patriotism, and celebrating God celebrating. You know, just how thankful that I am. That I I grew up in a place like the United States of America. And that, that I have a God who loves me who cares. And I have a say very dark for me. And we celebrate that. And I don't beat people over the head with it, but they know. They know how thankful I am and how I feel so blessed and so fortunate to have been with Istanbul as the most lauded actor in the history of country music. And I've gotten to experience a life that like I told my wife the other day, so if something ever happened to me and let me take some I don't want anybody cry for Jimmy fortune because Jimmy fortune is had one of the best lives anyone could ever have. I have seven beautiful children. I have 12 beautiful grandchildren. that I love dearly and when I say them, I swell up with pride and love and it can't explain it the children are great. But and again the grandkids are great to somebody asked me in life you know what what what is enough you know all the money you know, money's money is one thing and and fame isn't one thing. And you know, I said, I said you know what's enough when my grandchild comes through the front door, and so it starts young. Bah, bah, bah, where are you? I love you bye. Oh, yeah. I love you daddy. Yeah, you know that's enough.
Randy Hulsey 2:06:41
I agree with you. I was blessed to have my first grandchild born on the 10th Just a couple of weeks ago and because of delay thank you and because of the Terry and I a couple of weeks back just got over the the Rona ourselves so we finally got to meet the new grandbaby last last night. So you know, we haven't got to that stage where they're coming through the door and yelling for us but I you know, I can't I can't wait for that they they certainly are a blessing and I and I look forward to that I have three wonderful kids of my own all who are grown and successful now and you know, I was telling a customer at lunch today that you know, my my kids all grew up and gotten good jobs got married and never went to jail. So as a parent I'm I'm way way ahead of the game. You know what I'm saying? Man Oh, man, so you mentioned Jimmy fortune.com I encourage the listeners to go out and check out you know, the website purchase merch off the website there but where else on social media? Might they find you Jimmy? Or is that a Nina question?
Jimmy Fortune 2:08:03
Bill Gates or music.com you could you could catch us a lot of stuff is on there as well. I mean, we're all over the place I mean, all of my not all of my most of my CDs and DVDs you could find out there anywhere the sales you know music whether it be Walmart, Kmart, or any of the some music stores, but mostly Cracker Barrel, I mean, that's where most of the sales come from. But, but yeah, but definitely do unfortunate.com Of course. We're all connected with ASICs we're connected with Randy Walker, we're connected with Statler brothers. So if you want to find out some information on Jimmy 14 Go to any of those okay? And places but if you want direct contact, my wife kind of handles everything Nina, the one for Nina I wouldn't be able to do this because I'm not a computer guy. I'm not a tech guy. I'm not the I'm just I don't do social media much. I just like to sing and go to people when I go on the road and perform and talk to him if I can't. If everything if they allow me to do it sometimes cope with COVID they don't play into it. But most times I can get out and talk to people and perform my songs and do what I do. That's what I love. Absolutely and and like I said when I'm home I try to be home and I try to go see my kids as much as I can. I got some live here in Nashville, Tennessee, some in North Carolina when I went to North John the restaurant Virginia and I try to get out and see him and try to make time for families by stuck in because I feel it's so important. It is and I missed a lot of time with my kids growing up
on the road I do
Jimmy Fortune 2:09:53
and and everything and so it's not thinking back on things and you know I don't like having regrets, but I do have regrets. And like I'm sure most people do.
Randy Hulsey 2:10:04
Well, you, you are gone for the right reasons, you know, and a lot of people can't say that, that they missed out on the upbringing and missed out on the lives of their kids for the wrong reasons. And you did it for the right reasons. So there, there is that consolation there. So the only thing you can do now is make the most of, you know, your time with the kids and the grandkids every minutes precious with them. So, and I know you'll you'll enjoy them in the days and weeks and
Jimmy Fortune 2:10:35
years to come.
Randy Hulsey 2:10:37
Jimmy what I mean, what a treat, it's been to chat with you. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for all the wonderful music over the years and the music that certainly yet yet to come. I can't thank you enough for sharing your time and your story with myself and the listeners. Yeah. Yeah, it's, it's, it's kind of a Yeah, it's kind of a labor of love for me. You know, I said, when I started this podcast, I wanted to do it for two reasons. And the first reason was that I love the stories behind the songs. And that's the first and foremost and then the second part of that is if I can use this platform to expose guys like you not that not that you need much help in the exposure department. But But hey, at the end of the day, there's probably a lot of people out there that don't know about your solo career, you know where I'm coming from. Right so So if if I expose Jimmy fortune and any other of these guests to five new people that were way ahead of the curve right there. And so that's that's kind of the the idea behind it. But again, I asked the listeners to follow Jimmy fortune they're on on social media, Jimmy fortune.com. Get out and check out a show if you can in an area near you. I ask that you guys like, share and subscribe to the podcast. You can find the show on Facebook at backstage pass radio podcast, on Instagram at backstage pass radio, on Twitter at backstage pass VC and on the website at backstage pass. radio.com You guys make sure to take care of yourselves and each other and we'll see you right back here on the next episode of backstage pass radio.
Adam Gordon 2:12:26
Thanks so much for joining us. We hope you enjoyed today's episode of backstage pass radio. Make sure to follow Randy on Facebook and Instagram at Randy Halsey music and on Twitter at our Halsey music. Also, make sure to like, subscribe and turn on alerts for upcoming podcasts. If you enjoyed the podcast, make sure to share the link with a friend and tell them backstage pass radio is the best show on the web for everything music. We'll see you next time right here on backstage pass radio