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Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Nite Retro - Ronnie Milsap

Welcome to Friday Nite Retro! Tonight I'm highlighting one of my favorite country crossover artists - Ronnie Milsap. The selections below are the songs that I am familiar with but, if you're a country fan, you likely know quite a few more. Milsap is credited with forty #1 hits in country music, falling third only to George Strait and the late Conway Twitty. You can check out all of his chart positions here.

Milsap was born with a congenital defect which left him nearly totally blind. His mother dumped him in a school for the blind at an early age, and he turned to music to escape the world of cruelty and mis-treatment that he suffered during his childhood years. His instructors noticed and encouraged his talent, and despite receiving a full college scholarship, he dropped out to become a full-time musician. At the age of 18, he got his first professional gig, as a member of J. J. Cale’s band.

He also worked with Ashford and Simpson and Elvis Presley during the early 1960's, finally releasing his debut album, Ronnie Milsap, in 1971. Milsap dominated the country charts during the early 1970's. He soon had a handul of Top tens, along with four #1 hits, that made him a star overnight. However, success was just beginning for the young blind singer as he would have a huge impact on country music in the many years to come.

From 1976 to 1978, Ronnie Milsap would score a streak of seven #1 songs in a row. Of these include "(I'm a) Stand By Woman Man" and "What a Difference You've Made in My Life". Yet the most significant in this string would have to be "It Was Almost Like a Song" of 1977, the first crossover hit of his career. The song climbed all the way to #16 on the pop charts, and was his first song to appear on the Adult Contemporary Charts, stopping at #2. The album It Was Almost Like a Song was his first album to be certified gold and also served as his very first record to break the Top 100 on the Billboard Hot 200. Although it was it a huge success, the song was Milsap's only crossover hit of the 1970s. However, he would return to the pop charts just four years later, perhaps more successful than he had even had even been prior.

It Was Almost Like A Song

What a Difference You've Made in My Life

These are the songs that stand out the most for me. Every single one of them has memories tied to it. Much of that may be due to the fact that were released when I was 17 on into my early 20's.

Smoky Mountain Rain

There's No Gettin' Over Me

I Wouldn't Have Missed It for the World

Any Day Now

He Got You

Stranger in my House

Lost In The Fifties Tonight

Learn more about Ronnie Milsap here.

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