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50. Cale Makar

Are we jumping the gun here?

Cale Makar has only been in the NHL for two seasons, but the Defenseman has already established himself as one of the top offensive Defenseman in the game

From Calgary, Maker was taken with the Fourth Overall Pick in the 2017 Draft, but he elected to go to UMass instead of the Avalanche.  He was a superstar with the Minuteman, bringing them to the 2019 Frozen Four where they lost to Minnesota Duluth, but Makar had his Hockey East Player of the Year Award and the Hobey Baker Award to comfort him.  With nothing left to prove, he was seasoned and ready for the NHL.

Makar had a spectacular rookie campaign, winning the Calder with a 50-Point year, and a ninth-place Norris finish.  He was even better last year, scoring 44 Points in the COVID reduced year, with 44 Points in 44 Games.  Makar’s PPG echoed the Defenseman of the 1980s and early 90s, all the more impressive considering the modern era.  Makar finished second for the Norris last year, and there appears to be one on his mantlepiece in the future.

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18. Johnny Horton

Coming from a family of California fruit-pickers and dropping out of multiple post-secondary schools didn’t exactly say “hit country singer”, but Johnny certainly became that exact thing. Seemingly unsure of what to do, he traveled around: getting a job in a California mail room, then studying geology in Seattle, then searching for gold in Alaska. While in Alaska, he began writing songs. Returning south, he entered one of his songs in a contest in Texas and won first place. This encouraged him to pursue music for his career. After a number of false starts and tough times in his early recording years, he got a one-year contract with Columbia records. Hoping to get some hits, he took his honky-tonk style and added some rockabilly sounds to it (which was the popular trend at the time). His plan worked. He was able to score a number of huge hits throughout the late 1950’s. Included in these hits was “The Battle Of New Orleans”, which earned him his only Grammy award, was named one of the greatest songs of the 20th century and remains one the most popular songs in the history of the Billboard charts. This run of success probably would have continued, but Johnny died in a car crash in 1960. But even with a very short career, Johnny Horton left a lasting legacy on the country music genre, inspiring various artists to come after him. He has also made it into the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame, and the Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame. Will the Country Music Hall Of Fame be next?

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17. Eddie Rabbitt

Eddie was deep into music very early. He was proficient on the guitar by 12, and was considered a “walking encyclopedia of country music” as a child. Once he was an adult he moved to Nashville, where he worked as a truck driver, soda jerk, fruit picker, but most importantly: a songwriter. Eddie ended up writing songs for George Morgan, Tom Jones and Elvis Presley, but it was a number one song he wrote for Ronnie Milsap that eventually got him his own recording contract. Starting off in his radio career, he had a distinctly traditional country sound to them. Then as he made his way into the 80’s, his songs got increasingly pop-sounding in ways that challenged what was commonly thought of as country music. Although this turned off some traditionalists, the move to pop sounds increased his audience and allowed him a long stretch of huge smash songs. Like a lot of other 1980’s country artists, Eddie got quickly faded from radio in the early 1990’s by a new class of singers coming in. Today, his songs are thought of as fun country-pop fluff, but no one seems to remember just how creative and innovative Eddie Rabbitt was at the time. Even though he passed away too early from lung cancer in 1998, his catalogue of songs should eventually earn him a place in the Hall Of Fame.

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16. Jack Greene

Since he was a young teen, Jack was able to slowly move up in the industry, step-by-step. Starting as a teenage disc jockey, by 18 he was working on the “Tennessee Barn Dance” show. Then he moved to Atlanta to form his own band, which lasted for 8 years. Moving back to Tennessee, he headed to Nashville this time and eventually ended up joining the backing band of country legend Ernest Tubb. After a few years with them, Tubb told him to try for his own solo career. His first hit song (“There Goes My Everything”) became a country music standard, a pop hit, helped Jack get 4 CMA award wins, 4 Grammy nominations, and began a string of hit songs that would make Jack one of the biggest artists in the genre at the time. Jack’s career didn’t end up lasting for decades, but with hit songs, awards, and being an all-around well-liked guy, that sounds like a recipe for making it in the Hall one of these days.

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15. Slim Whitman

As a child, Slim enjoyed the country music he heard on the radio but didn’t even think of a musical career for himself. Singing only came up while he was in the Navy. He’d sing to entertain the members of his on ship. His singing was so well received that his captain blocked his transfer to another boat (this saved his life as the boat he would’ve been going to ended up sinking). After World War II, he did odd jobs around Tampa while working on his music career. A talent manager heard him sing on the radio and he got signed to RCA records. He was never big on singing depressing country tunes, and always preferred soft, romantic songs that allowed him to show off his smooth, three-octave falsetto and yodeling abilities. His style was called “countrypolitan”. Whitman was never as big in the U.S. as he was in Europe and Australia, but he did have a solid number of hit songs on the U.S. charts. He also got a resurgence in the late 1970’s and 80’s when television ads for his albums began coming out. One of his albums became the biggest-selling tv advertised album in history, and he was in the public eye again for a little while. With his excellent voice, millions sold and worldwide fame, there should be a plaque with his name on it at some point in the future.
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14. Tompall Glaser & The Glaser Brothers

Being the 3 youngest of six children, Tompall, Jim and Chuck Glaser began singing together and were playing county fairs when they were just preteens. From a modern perspective, their radio career was never one that set the charts on fire, but they were always firmly planted in the ‘outlaw scene’ of the 1970’s country music industry. Their harmonies were considered some of the best in the genre, so when they were starting out they got most of their work as background singers, singing on records for Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash among other people. Always knowing that they wanted to do their own thing outside of the Nashville machine, the brothers formed a publishing company in 1962. They were signing on songwriters that other studios were ignoring, including John Hartford (Hartford would go on to write “Gentle On My Mind”, a signature song for Glen Campbell and one that has been recorded by over 300 other artists). Then, after charting a few of their own songs in the late 1960’s, the Glaser brothers opening their own full studio. It housed a publishing company, a production company, a talent agency and design services for album covers. This place was a haven for artists as it allowed them to have more creative control over their music and their music careers. When Chuck had a stroke in 1975, Tompall and Jim went off for solo careers for a few years before the trio came back together in 1980. Artists like Mel Tillis, Jimmy Buffett and Kenny Rogers all recorded there. To summarize, Tompall Glaser & the Glaser Brothers never got a number one song (though they got a couple top tens), but what they were able to do was open up avenues in country music for other artists to flourish. For that, they are deserving.

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13. John Denver

Now John Denver is an interesting case. Starting out his musical journey in the folk-pop realm (similar to a group like Peter, Paul & Mary), he joined the Mitchell Trio in 1965 and then went solo four years later. During these first few solo years, he was recording folk songs that were becoming massive pop hits like “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Rocky Mountain High”. Those songs were lighting up the pop charts and selling millions, but they were doing nothing in the country realm. It would not be until years later (after Denver’s success in country music) that a song like “Take Me Home, Country Roads” would go on to be considered a classic of the country music genre. Then, by 1974, the Nashville industry seemed to think that John’s music suited the genre now and he began to get hits on the country charts. But not only had he been opened up to hits on the country charts, but he was also welcomed into the entire country scene receiving ACM awards and CMA awards (including the CMAs giving him ‘Entertainer Of The Year’). There was, of course, backlash among some in the genre that there would be a pop star getting country hits (look up the John Denver/Charlie Rich CMA issue), but as years have passed he is very much seen as a country-pop singer now. Then, after all of this, John’s success on all charts was fading by the end of the 1970’s. He got a couple more hits in the 80’s, but that would be it for chart-toppers. Nowadays, as his name has been brought up in consideration for induction, that John would be honoured but not 100% satisfied being added to the Hall Of Fame because he considered himself more of a folk artist than a country one. That is a fair point, but being one of the biggest singers of his era, selling millions of records, getting a number of hits, and singing country music classics should mean that he deserves a spot in the Country Music Hall Of Fame either way.

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12. Anne Murray

Anne Murray is a soft-spoken lady that came from a small town in Nova Scotia, and she also ended up being a musical superstar who kicked down doors to allow Canadian females achieve huge success on the international stage, including paving the way for the massive careers of Shania Twain and Celine Dion. While going to university, she auditioned for a small Canadian singing series called “Singing Jubilee”, eventually getting a part on it. She struck up a friendship with the show’s musical director, who convinced her to record a solo album at an independent record label in Toronto. That album did well for an independent release, and caught the attention of Capital Records. After Anne signed with them, they released the song “Snowbird” as a single. It not only became a major success in Canada, but it ended up becoming a surprise hit in the U.S. as well (hitting the top ten on at least 4 different U.S. charts), as well as being a hit in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. That surprise hit song would eventually turn into an over 20 year career of hits on the country and pop charts and selling millions of records in the process. She retired from the entire entertainment world in 2008 and has made very few appearances since that point, but that does not diminish her legacy as a legendary award-winning superstar who took the world by storm.

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11. Mickey Gilley

Being born in Mississippi, Mickey grew up close by to his cousin Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry taught Mickey his piano technique, but Mickey didn’t really have an interest in going into the music business until he saw Jerry become a huge star. So he recorded songs on various small labels in his new home of Texas, and became a popular regional star in that area. He even became popular enough that an entrepreneur approached him in the early 1970’s about opening a club together, which they did and named the new club Gilley’s. Up until this point, he hadn’t achieved national success but that changed in 1974 when a local DJ began playing one of his records a fair amount, leading to a bigger label (Playboy Records) picking it up and playing it across the country. Mickey got signed to this new label and the song became a huge success. This one hit ended up becoming multiple hits throughout the rest of the 1970’s. By the end of the decade, Mickey’s star was fading. But that turned around in 1980, when a new John Travolta movie came along called “Urban Cowboy”. The film (which was filmed at Gilley’s) became massive and changed the course of the entire country genre throughout the rest of the 80’s, with the term ‘urban cowboy’ being used to describe the soft-spoken pop-tinged songs coming from artists like Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton at that point in time. Seeing one of his songs become a crossover hit from the “Urban Cowboy” soundtrack, Mickey changed his honky tonk sound to be more pop friendly for the 1980’s. This decision allowed him to continue getting hits for another 10 years. Not even mentioning his awards throughout his career, Mickey had over 15 years of hits, was one of the biggest names in the genre at the time, had the world’s biggest country music bar, and encapsulated the sound of the era very well. This all says that he is very deserving of a Hall Of Fame plaque.

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