Thursday, 01 April 2021 01:37


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Jackie asked about Janie Fricke and I was glad she did. She, along with Kathy Mattea have the two most mispronounced names in format history. (Frick-y or Frick-ee). Janie Fricke was extremely popular when I got my start in country music and country radio. She was also the first star I met backstage as a pro at my first country station, WOBL in Oberlin, Ohio. She was at the Lorain County Fair early 1980's.  (I doubt she remembers me LOL)

This Song Was Very Popular When In First Got My First Country Radio Job.


To accurately give you an overview, Janie Fricke was a pure singer, a sensational vocalist, and an incredible talent that literally did everything a singer can possibly do. And she did it all very well. Yes, we'll remember her as an award winning country star which she was, but believe it or not that's only the beginning. Being honest, time has not been overly kind in remembering her legacy, or many other's legacy's from that era (1980-1986 or so) as country has dramatically pivoted so much since then. Her chart run happened during a time we were really trying to find our way.  But that doesn't mean she wasn't great, because she was.

Great Ballad Sung With Heart  - Fantastic Song!


Before she ever had her own songs on the radio, she did some incredible things in the mid to late 1970's.  She sang backup for Dolly, Barbara Mandrell, Ronnie Milsap, Crystal Gayle, Conway Twitty, Tanya Tucker, and Eddie Rabbitt, a serious "A" List at the time.  And Oh yeah....Elvis.  She was also one of the most sought after jingle singers anywhere, recording jingles for numerous ad campaigns. She then recorded a series of background vocals/duets with country singer Johnny Duncan that really catapulted her to a new level. She also did duets with Vern Gosdin, and later with Merle Haggard. She deserved and got her own deal, but it would be a couple years before she would really take off.

I Always Loved This Song - Very Vulnerable - Well Done


But solo success did come, and ran through about 1986.  A bunch of number one songs, touring with Alabama, and winning the CMA Female Vocalist Of The Year  in 1982 and 1983, and ACM Female Vocalist Of The Year  1983 as well.  She also did some TV acting on various shows, and was very popular within our format. But truth be told, country was getting ready to explode in a brand new direction about 1986, and many of the stars popular early in the decade were about to be replaced by neo traditional stars on the charts.  Even Alabama. 

Big Song For Her - Early 80's - Clearly


The new Mashalls in town were, George Strait, Randy Travis, Dwight Yokam, Keith Whitley, Patty Loveless, Holly Dunn, Reba, Kathy Mattea and others. They were the start of the flood that would follow.  Country was rapidly shedding "pop country,"  and a far more traditional sound was in.  But I really want to say this. There are alot of singers, both past and present in many different formats that wish they could sing as well as Janie Fricke.  She's blessed with the ability to make any song sound great.  I think she could sing a refrigerator owners manual -  and make it sound good.

Terrific Duet With Merle Haggard  - A live Version


Janie Fricke had a nice run.  I am proud to say I played all of Janie Fricke's songs on the radio for many years.  Her talent was amazing, her voice powerful, clean, pure and very versatile. She never got lost in a song, you heard her right up front, she owned it, and her singing was always very confident.  She was as confident of a singer as we've ever had.  She knew exactly where the notes were and nailed them with skill of a singing marksman.  No matter what changes were happening in country, or the rest of the music world Janie Fricke could flat out sing most of the competition in any format.

Later In Her Run - Loved This Song  - Another #1


I remember talking with her at the Lorain County Fair backstage with my Program Director Dave Lenahan from WOBL.  I couldn't believe I was talking with a real star that I played on the radio that very morning.  I was about 20, and was mesmerized by this beautiful and talented woman, wearing her signature headband, and concert outfit who was telling us stories about singing with Elvis. It's a memory I will never forget.

When you add it all up, Janie Fricke did it all. She's from a very different era that had way more limits for huge success for all of our stars.  No social media, and almost no TV exposure. Heck, most of us didn't have cable TV.  No YouTube, no internet, no downloading music, and hardly any country music videos. You had to buy the album at the store and for the most part, we were not selling a lot of those then. But she was a star, and led our format when we needed leaders.

Janie Fricke.  Amazingly talented.

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