Country Music in the 1960s: A Look Back at the Biggest Artists, Moments + More
Woodstock, protest songs, the Beatles ... The 1960s were a huge decade for music -- and country music was no exception. The '60s introduced country music fans countless future classic songs, albums and artists.
Below, take a look back at the songs, milestones and trends that summed up country music in the 1960s.
Country Music Milestones of the 1960s
March 29, 1960: Tootsie's Orchid Lounge opens. The venue now known as Tootsie's was open prior to 1960 as Mom's, but it changed names when Hattie Louise "Tootsie" Bess purchased the restaurant and gave it its now-famous name after a painter, to her surprise, painted its exterior purple.
Sept. 3, 1961: Loretta Lynn signs her first record deal, with Decca Records. She released 18 studio albums, three gospel albums, two collaborative records with Ernest Tubb, a Christmas project and a greatest hits disc with the label.
Nov. 3, 1961: Hank Williams, Fred Rose and Jimmie Rodgers are inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The three men, all posthumously inducted, were the Hall of Fame's first class of honorees.
Jan. 19, 1963: Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs' "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" is at No. 1 on the country charts. It's known to most as an adaptation of the The Beverly Hillbillies theme.
March 5, 1963: Patsy Cline dies in a plane crash. Two days earlier, on March 3, 1963, she had performed what would become her final shows.
May 13, 1966: The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band played their very first show at the Paradox in Orange, Calif.
Jan. 7, 1967: Charley Pride becomes first African-American singer to play the Grand Ole Opry. Pride was only the second Black performer to play at the Opry, following harmonica player DeFord Bailey, who appeared at the Grand Ole Opry from 1927 to 1941.
Feb. 11, 1967: Loretta Lynn hits No. 1 with "Don't Come Home a'Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)." The tune, which held the top spot on the charts for two consecutive weeks, became Lynn's first of 16 No. 1 hits.
Feb. 13, 1967: Dolly Parton releases her debut album. The then-21-year-old Parton wrote or co-wrote 10 of the 12 songs on the record, titled Hello, I'm Dolly.
April 1, 1967: The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opens. The Hall of Fame quickly became a destination for not only tourists but also Music City locals, who came to view artifacts from their favorite country music artists, past and present.
Jan. 13, 1968: Johnny Cash records his At Folsom Prison album. By the time Cash recorded his Folsom Prison live album, he had been performing at prisons for several years, after having his own run-ins with the law, mostly due to drugs.
June 29, 1968: Tammy Wynette hits No. 1 with "D-I-V-O-R-C-E." It was the third straight Wynette solo single to hit No. 1 on the country charts, and it also crossed over to the Billboard pop charts, peaking at No. 63.
July 20, 1968: Johnny Cash hits No. 1 with the live version of "Folsom Prison Blues." Back in 1955, the studio take on the tune — which appears on Cash's debut album, With His Hot and Blue Guitar — hit No. 4 on the country radio airplay chart.
Nov. 2, 1968: Conway Twitty scores his first No. 1 country song, "Next in Line." The singer had previously released several non-country albums and earned a No. 1 single on the pop charts with "It's Only Make Believe," but with "Next in Line," Twitty found his home in country music.
Jan. 29, 1969: The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour debuts on CBS. The variety show ran until 1972, when the show was canceled.
Feb. 24, 1969: Johnny Cash records At San Quentin. The 10-song project, which was released on June 4, 1969, was recorded live at the San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif.
June 15, 1969: Hee Haw makes its prime-time debut on CBS. The show from 1969 to 1971, followed by 20 years in local syndication.
The Best of Country Music in the 1960s
Top 10 Country Songs of the 1960s: From songs so timeless we forget there was a time they didn't exist to recordings that feel entirely of their time, the 1960s are a wealth of country music.
Top 10 Country Albums of the 1960s: The 1960s were a decade of transition in country music: Traditional country was still king, but more and more game-changing acts were starting to filter in. For every album of classic country standards released in the 1960s, there was an album that was starting to urge the genre in newer, bigger directions.
Top 10 Country Artists of the 1960s: Country music came into its own during the 1950s and '60s, in parallel with the rise of rock 'n' roll, soul and R&B. In fact, it's not a stretch to say all of these genres informed each other at various points, from Johnny Cash's outlaw sounds to Tammy Wynette's brutally honest tearjerkers.
Country Music in the 1960s: Hear a Playlist
For a trip back in time, give this Spotify playlist a listen. Before you "Fall to Pieces," take a "Walk Through This World ..." with Patsy Cline, George Jones and many more.