A Music Journalist Who Raised A Genre’s Standing

24 Jun

Chet Flippo died this week. He was a music journalist who had influence on a music genre. He eloquently garnered it awareness and consideration. Resulting in its lasting presence. At Rolling Stone in the 1970’s, it was Chet Flippo’s profiles of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Dolly Parton that led to their popularity by a pop music audience.

Rolling Stone’s music journalists’ names were well-known to its readers. We knew their different styles and what mattered to them. Mostly, what fascinated them fascinated us. And Flippo, as he was called, was one of the great music writers whose name we knew.

TrendingTrbute.Flippo.6.24.13From writing about Janis Joplin’s 10th year high school reunion in 1970, to John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan, his rock journo cred was established. But it was his interest in “country and western” music that led to his championing of the genre. And it was his passionate advocacy that ultimately helped it to become simply “country” music. Flippo played a crucial role in promoting it to a rock ‘n’ roll audience in the ’70s and ’80s. Starting with Willie Nelson, who he considered overlooked and underrated, he went on to write about Waylon Jennings, who was opening for the Grateful Dead, and Dolly Parton, “country music’s best-kept secret.” One of his early articles was Country Music: The Rock and Roll Influence.

ChetFlippo.RollingStones.bookAfter he left Rolling Stone, he wrote his first book, Your Cheatin’ Heart: A Biography of Hank Williams. His subsequent books were about Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, and David Bowie. He was Billboard’s Nashville Bureau Chief and, since 2001, he was editorial director of the country music cable channel CMT.

Bringing country music to the rock ‘n’ roll mainstream exposed incredible musicians to a new audience. That’s a pretty good legacy.

The New York Times: June 24, 2013
Rolling Stone: June 19, 2013

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