- - Monday, October 22, 2012

Garth Brooks promised he’d be emotional during his Country Music Hall of Fame induction. But the tears started before he made it all the way into the building.

Reflecting on personal heroes George Strait, Bob Seger and James Taylor, who were on hand to salute him Sunday night, Mr. Brooks teared up as he spoke with reporters on the red carpet. He only got more emotional as the night went along.

“I moved to this town for one reason and that was to get ‘Much Too Young to Feel This Damn Old’ cut by George Strait,” Mr. Brooks said before the ceremony as his eyes began to redden. “That’s what George is singing tonight. It’s gonna be so cool. I’m a fan. So I get to be a fan tonight.”

Mr. Brooks was inducted along with trailblazing singer Connie Smith and keyboard player Hargus “Pig” Robbins, whose rolling signature sound has adorned countless hits across the radio dial.

It was a night studded with stars. Mr. Strait, Mr. Seeger and Mr. Taylor played for Mr. Brooks, dubbed “the mighty Garth” by Mr. Robbins. Lee Ann Womack, the Quebe Sisters and the Whites saluted Miss Smith. Merle Haggard provided her induction speech.

Ronnie Dunn serenaded Mr. Robbins with a version of George Jones’ “White Lightning,” the first No. 1 hit Mr. Robbins played on in 1959, while simultaneously drinking moonshine from a Mason jar. Ronnie Milsap, who like Mr. Robbins is blind, joked “Pig and I are driving home tonight,” before joining Mr. Robbins on “Behind Closed Doors.”

Mr. Brooks gave a speech that included thanks to friends, family and industry professionals who helped him along the way. And he told the story of how Mr. Taylor, Mr. Seeger and Mr. Strait affected him at the points they entered his life. He remembered hearing Mr. Strait for the first time while visiting home after his freshman year in college.

“Unwound” came on the radio and it changed everything.

“From that point forward I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Mr. Brooks said. “I wanted to be George Strait so bad, man. And I have to say now, 20 years in the business under my own name, thank you very much, I still want to be George Strait so damn bad.”

American Indian activist, actor Russell Means dies

Russell Means, a former American Indian Movement activist who helped lead the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee, reveled in stirring up attention and appeared in several Hollywood films, has died. He was 72.

Mr. Means died early Monday at his ranch in Porcupine, S.D., Oglala Sioux Tribe spokeswoman Donna Salomon said.

Mr. Means, a Wanblee native who grew up in the San Francisco area, announced in August 2011 that he had developed inoperable throat cancer. He told The Associated Press he was forgoing mainstream medical treatments in favor of traditional American Indian remedies and alternative treatments away from his home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Mr. Means was an early leader of AIM and led its armed occupation of the South Dakota town of Wounded Knee, a 71-day siege that included several gun battles with federal officers. He often was embroiled in controversy, partly because of AIM’s alleged involvement in the 1975 slaying of Annie Mae Aquash. But Mr. Means also was known for his role in the movie “The Last of the Mohicans” and had run unsuccessfully for the Libertarian nomination for president in 1988.

Andy Williams remembered at Branson memorial tribute

Entertainer Andy Williams was remembered Sunday for a smooth voice that could soothe the soul, an inviting smile and a warmth that became synonymous with Christmas as celebrities and fans alike gathered for a memorial tribute at his Moon River Theatre in Branson, the southwest Missouri town he adopted as his home.

Williams, who died last month of cancer at the age of 84, was serenaded in absentia by a series of musical artists who got their start with him decades ago or had performed with him over the years — the Lennon Sisters, Osmond Brothers and Gatlin Brothers, among them. Entertainer Bob Newhart choked up with emotion as he joked of his friendship with Williams.

Others sent tributes by video, including comedian Bill Cosby and Ethel Kennedy, who recalled swooning as she once danced with Williams — a family friend who sang at the memorial for her husband, Robert F. Kennedy, after his assassination in 1968.

Williams himself also appeared on the video screen as clips recalling his musical albums, TV variety show and Christmas specials were played.

More than 1,000 people attended the tribute hosted by entertainer Peter Marshall that started as an invitation-only event, but was opened to fans as word spread through Branson.

Williams had three platinum and 18 gold records, and five Grammy award nominations during a career that began at age 8 — when he performed with his older brothers Dick, Bob and Don — and continued nearly until his death as he performed at his Branson theater named for his signature song, “Moon River.”

Compiled from Web and wire reports

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