Lynda, a listener - asked me about the Urban Cowboy Movement, as I reference it here. Jean, UC did a lot for Country, but it went on too long. The music became "formatless" and unfocused for many Country fans, and that was not good at the end. But it did bring many people to us at first, that knew nothing of us, and that's good.
An artist that helped shape UC, was the incredible Eddie Rabbitt. Insanely gifted songwriter, singer, and performer. Rabbitt got Country Music noticed by many for simply recording good music, and from the late 1970's, he was heavily influential to our format. He wrote Kentucky Rain , a smash for Elvis (one of his Elvis' best songs), and Pure Love that launched the career of Ronnie Milsap, then his own with a list of big songs so long, they can't be listed fairly.
His style of music was a mix of Country, and pop that was just flat out good that made others want to be and sound like him. But, there was only one Eddie Rabbitt. He didn't invent Urban Cowboy, no one really did, but he was a huge force within it. The gift Eddie Rabbitt gave us outside of the music was acceptance. Everyone liked his music at that time.
What A Great Country Song - Early Big Success
Rabbitt would become a big Country star and have great success on the pop charts too. He was universally loved and recorded duets with big stars, and those love ballads were played on all kinds of radio stations. He would be in national advertising campaigns in TV commercials and shows. He was simply a big star, and not just a big country star. He wrote songs for the movies for Clint Eastwood, and did some acting later in his career.
Hit Songs Don't Get Much Bigger Than This
I always thought he was a sensational songwriter, and blessed with the gift of a unique voice that cut through. He was an interesting story too. I interviewed Eddie Rabbitt a few times and these stories are true according to him. First, he was a country singer from Brooklyn and then New Jersey (LOL rare enough) , and he dropped out of high school to play music. He wrote Pure Love while eating cereal (Captain Crunch), and he wrote Kentucky Rain in the bath tub when he was broke. He worked in a mental hospital, and won a talent contest as a teen that helped get him noticed. Many years later, he went back and finished high school. Eddie taught me in our interviews, that it all begins with the "song" there is no substitute for a good song. - Amen!
Interviewing Eddie - 1990 KLIK (The Big 950) Jefferson City, Missouri
After A Barrage Of Huge Hits, This Album - Kept The Momentum Going - Step By Step
He recorded hit after hit, Drivin' My LIfe Away, I Love A Rainy Night, I Can't Help Myself, Suspicions, and tons of others. He recorded slow songs, sad songs, party songs, driving songs, love songs, he could do it all. But I don't feel history has been overly kind to Eddie Rabbitt. When we think of that era, we think of Kenny Rogers, Dolly, Johnny Lee, Mickey Gilley, Ed Bruce, Don Williams, and many others and that's fine. But Eddie Rabbitt was the big, big star for a good long while that did something very unusual in that era of country. He wrote and sang all those songs in an era when there was a major separation between singers and songwriters. He was both. The difference was, he had the songs other singers wish they had.
Before the new traditionalists showed up in the mid 1980's Eddie Rabbitt was a major star that helped keep us going for many years. He sang and wrote 17 Number one songs, 34 top tens. He is worth an afternoon of YouTubing and downloading. If you are too young to remember, he is a great artist to learn a lot about. From my seat, there was a decade or so, where he was overall the best talent in Nashville, with his writing, singing, performing and immense popularity. He is one of the best songwriters in Country Music history.
Eddie Rabbitt died in 1998 at 56 of lung cancer.
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