1981 in country music

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This is a list of notable events in country music that took place in the year 1981.

List of years in country music (table)

Events[edit]

  • March 14 — The final showing of Live From The Grand Ole Opry on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) occurs on this night. The show actually went beyond the televised segment, but the show was ended with a clip of Marty Robbins singing "El Paso" (a song he used to close out his Opry segment at midnight) from the year before. Because of cost over-runs and other technicalities, this was the final run for the annual show on PBS that featured the music of Tom T. Hall, Del Reeves, Hank Snow, Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl, and many other performers.
  • October — The Weekly Country Music Countdown, a three-hour weekly countdown program, debuts. The syndicated program, hosted by radio personality Chris Charles, features the top 30 country hits of the week as reported by Radio & Records magazine. The program is a success and the first country music-oriented countdown program to successfully rival the 8-year-old American Country Countdown show.

No dates[edit]

  • The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Country Music, an eight-volume, 143-track collection, is released. The box set is considered one of the first important retrospectives of the genre and contains extensive liner notes, depicting the importance of each song or artist included. Songs included range from 1922's "Sally Gooden" to 1975's "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" by Willie Nelson. Specifically, each volume is titled as follows: "1920's," "1930's Southeast," "1930's Southwest," "1941-1953" (two records), "1953-1963," "Bluegrass" and "1963-1975."

Top hits of the year[edit]

Singles released by American artists[edit]

US CAN Single Artist
7 4 1959 John Anderson
16 Acapulco Johnny Duncan
20 41 Alice Doesn't Love Here Anymore Bobby Goldsboro
1 1 All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down) Hank Williams, Jr.
1 19 All Roads Lead to You Steve Wariner
1 1 Am I Losing You Ronnie Milsap
1 1 Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground Willie Nelson
10 10 Any Which Way You Can Glen Campbell
1 Are You Happy Baby? Dottie West
10 6 The Baron Johnny Cash
3 27 Beautiful You The Oak Ridge Boys
1 5 Bet Your Heart on Me Johnny Lee
17 8 Between This Time and the Next Time Gene Watson
3 6 A Bridge That Just Won't Burn Conway Twitty
1 2 But You Know I Love You Dolly Parton
6 50 By Now Steve Wariner
4 4 Can I See You Tonight Tanya Tucker
44 20 Carolina (I Remember You) Charlie Daniels
16 Cheatin's a Two Way Street Sammi Smith
8 Chicken Truck John Anderson
6 1 Crying Don McLean
18 11 Crying in the Rain Tammy Wynette
12 Cup of Tea Rex Allen, Jr. and Margo Smith
19 Darlin' Tom Jones
1 41 Dixie on My Mind Hank Williams, Jr.
18 29 Do I Have to Draw a Picture Billy Swan
1 4 Do You Love as Good as You Look The Bellamy Brothers
20 Does She Wish She Was Single Again The Burrito Brothers
13 48 Don't Bother to Knock Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius
13 Don't Forget Yourself The Statler Brothers
16 47 Don't Get Above Your Raisin' Ricky Skaggs
11 Don't Look Now (But We Just Fell in Love) Eddy Arnold
5 36 Don't Wait on Me The Statler Brothers
11 18 Don't You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me) Willie Nelson & Ray Price
16 14 Down and Out George Strait
2 2 Down to My Last Broken Heart Janie Fricke
7 Dream of Me Vern Gosdin
1 13 Drifter Sylvia
1 1 Elvira The Oak Ridge Boys
6 3 Falling Again Don Williams
16 Feedin' the Fire Zella Lehr
1 5 Feels So Right Alabama
1 Fire and Smoke Earl Thomas Conley
10 Following the Feeling Moe Bandy & Judy Bailey
6 Fool by Your Side Dave & Sugar
1 9 Friends Razzy Bailey
14 Girls, Women and Ladies Ed Bruce
5 Giving up Easy Leon Everette
13 Good Ol' Girls Sonny Curtis
25 9 Good Times Willie Nelson
17 Goodbye Marie Bobby Goldsboro
9 17 Grandma's Song Gail Davies
1 1 Guitar Man Elvis Presley
1 1 A Headache Tomorrow (Or a Heartache Tonight) Mickey Gilley
8 22 Headed for a Heartache Gary Morris
8 11 Heart on the Mend Sylvia
10 8 Hey Joe (Hey Moe) Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley
8 10 Hillbilly Girl with the Blues Lacy J. Dalton
12 11 Honky Tonk Queen Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley
2 30 Hooked on Music Mac Davis
14 20 The House of the Rising Sun Dolly Parton
4 3 Hurricane Leon Everette
16 38 Husbands and Wives David Frizzell and Shelly West
1 1 I Don't Need You Kenny Rogers
13 I Don't Think Love Oughta Be That Way Reba McEntire
1 3 I Feel Like Loving You Again T. G. Sheppard
17 I Have a Dream Cristy Lane
11 20 I Just Need You for Tonight Billy Crash Craddock
1 3 I Keep Coming Back Razzy Bailey
1 4 I Love a Rainy Night Eddie Rabbitt
15 39 I Love My Truck Glen Campbell
54 11 I Love You a Thousand Ways John Anderson
1 3 I Loved 'Em Every One T. G. Sheppard
13 I Should've Called Eddy Raven
2 3 I Still Believe in Waltzes Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty
1 29 I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink Merle Haggard
1 14 I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool Barbara Mandrell
4 8 I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me) Gail Davies
4 1 I'll Need Someone to Hold Me (When I Cry) Janie Fricke
9 I'm Gonna Love You Back to Lovin' Me Again Joe Stampley
16 22 (I'm Gonna) Put You Back on the Rack Dottie West
18 28 I'm Into Lovin' You Billy Swan
4 2 I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal
(But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)
John Anderson
1 2 (I'm Settin') Fancy Free The Oak Ridge Boys
8 25 If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will) George Jones
11 16 If I Keep on Going Crazy Leon Everette
3 1 If I Needed You Emmylou Harris and Don Williams
12 If You Go, I'll Follow You Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton
6 It Don't Hurt Me Half as Bad Ray Price
5 11 It's a Lovely, Lovely World Gail Davies
4 7 It's Now or Never John Schneider
16 Just Like Me Terry Gregory
17 Just One Time Tompall & the Glaser Brothers
10 39 Killin' Time Fred Knoblock and Susan Anton
9 7 Leonard Merle Haggard
7 21 Louisiana Saturday Night Mel McDaniel
19 33 Love Ain't Never Hurt Nobody Bobby Goldsboro
13 Love Dies Hard Randy Barlow
1 1 Love in the First Degree Alabama
13 7 Love Is Fair Barbara Mandrell
8 10 Lovin' Arms Elvis Presley
2 2 Lovin' Her Was Easier
(Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)
Tompall & the Glaser Brothers
7 5 Lovin' What Your Lovin' Does to Me Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty
7 8 The Matador Sylvia
23 12 Maybe I Should Have Been Listening Gene Watson
10 12 Memphis Fred Knoblock
1 1 Midnight Hauler Razzy Bailey
8 10 A Million Old Goodbyes Mel Tillis
4 2 Miracles Don Williams
2 7 Miss Emily's Picture John Conlee
11 7 Mona Lisa Willie Nelson
10 1 Mr. Sandman Emmylou Harris
1 4 My Baby Thinks He's a Train Rosanne Cash
1 3 My Favorite Memory Merle Haggard
15 25 My Woman Loves the Devil Out of Me Moe Bandy
1 1 Never Been So Loved (In All My Life) Charley Pride
1 1 9 to 5 Dolly Parton
1 1 Old Flame Alabama
1 1 Older Women Ronnie McDowell
10 One-Night Fever Mel Tillis
1 2 Party Time T. G. Sheppard
23 20 Perfect Fool Debby Boone
3 4 Pickin' Up Strangers Johnny Lee
12 1 Pride Janie Fricke
3 4 Prisoner of Hope Johnny Lee
14 6 Queen of Hearts Juice Newton
4 17 Rainbow Stew Merle Haggard
43 19 Ready for the Times to Get Better Joe Sun
1 9 Rest Your Love on Me Conway Twitty
19 29 Rich Man Terri Gibbs
10 17 Right in the Palm of Your Hand Mel McDaniel
7 2 Roll On Mississippi Charley Pride
8 Scratch My Back (And Whisper in My Ear) Razzy Bailey
1 6 Seven Year Ache Rosanne Cash
5 2 Share Your Love with Me Kenny Rogers
16 She Belongs to Everyone but Me The Burrito Brothers
17 She's Steppin' Out Con Hunley
50 16 Should I Do It Tanya Tucker
7 Silent Treatment Earl Thomas Conley
4 2 Sleepin' with the Radio On Charly McClain
10 1 Some Days Are Diamonds (Some Days Are Stone) John Denver
20 38 Somebody Led Me Away Loretta Lynn
8 2 Somebody's Knockin' Terri Gibbs
13 Somethin' on the Radio Jacky Ward
1 1 Southern Rains Mel Tillis
1 1 Step by Step Eddie Rabbitt
1 2 Still Doin' Time George Jones
17 11 Storms Never Last Jessi Colter and Waylon Jennings
5 13 Surround Me with Love Charly McClain
17 3 Take It Easy Crystal Gayle
2 2 Takin' It Easy Lacy J. Dalton
7 42 Teach Me to Cheat The Kendalls
9 A Texas State of Mind David Frizzell and Shelly West
1 22 Texas Women Hank Williams, Jr.
13 12 Them Good Old Boys Are Bad John Schneider
1 1 (There's) No Gettin' Over Me Ronnie Milsap
12 They Could Put Me in Jail The Bellamy Brothers
4 6 Thirty-Nine and Holdin' Jerry Lee Lewis
1 8 Tight Fittin' Jeans Conway Twitty
5 8 Today All Over Again Reba McEntire
1 1 Too Many Lovers Crystal Gayle
6 Unwound George Strait
2 27 Wandering Eyes Ronnie McDowell
1 3 What Are We Doin' in Love Dottie West
4 28 What Are We Doin' Lonesome Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers Band
12 15 What I Had with You John Conlee
11 What's New with You Con Hunley
14 12 (When You Fall in Love) Everything's a Waltz Ed Bruce
18 21 Whiskey Chasin' Joe Stampley
10 12 Whisper Lacy J. Dalton
1 2 Who's Cheatin' Who Charly McClain
10 6 The Wild Side of Life/
It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
Jessi Colter and Waylon Jennings
19 15 Willie Jones Bobby Bare
20 Wind Is Bound to Change Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers
2 11 Wish You Were Here Barbara Mandrell
3 2 The Woman in Me Crystal Gayle
18 25 You Better Move On George Jones and Johnny Paycheck
1 1 You Don't Know Me Mickey Gilley
20 You (Make Me Wonder Why) Deborah Allen
9 16 You May See Me Walkin' Ricky Skaggs
7 16 You're My Favorite Star The Bellamy Brothers
14 You're the Best Kieran Kane
1 13 You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma David Frizzell and Shelly West
13 Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad Billie Jo Spears
7 Your Memory Steve Wariner

Singles released by Canadian artists[edit]

US CAN Single Artist
10 Another Broken Hearted Melody Family Brown
1 1 Blessed Are the Believers Anne Murray
15 Breaking and Entering Carroll Baker
11 Crazy Heart Laura Vinson
19 Every Story in the Book Ronnie Prophet
14 Four High Cards Peter Chipman
8 High and Dry C-Weed Band
14 Honky Tonk Fever Harold MacIntyre
18 How Deep in Love Am I Eddie Eastman
1 I Never Figured on This David Thompson
15 I'm Leanin' on the Devil Tonight John Winters
9 1 It's All I Can Do Anne Murray
57 7 It's Really Love This Time Family Brown
16 Joanne Lee Marlow
5 King of Fools Wayne Rostad
10 Lovin' Thru the Early Hours Lee Marlow
82 12 Mama What Does Cheatin' Mean Carroll Baker
19 The Moondancer Ian Tyson
3 Nashville Just Wrote (Another Cheatin' Song) Midnite Rodeo Band
9 Not Living, Not Dying Jerry Palmer
17 Ode to an Outlaw's Lady Terry Carisse
18 Ribbon of Gold Family Brown
19 Satisfied Mind Bill Hersh
8 Shoppin' Bag Lady Gurney Anderson
8 (Stuck In) Lodi Ronnie Hawkins
20 Sweet Harmony Mercey Brothers
12 The Time It Takes to Leave Canadian Zephyr
84 14 Too Much, Too Little, Too Late Mary Bailey
45 9 Wasn't That a Party The Rovers
16 Watching It Die Canadian Zephyr
16 5 We Don't Have to Hold Out Anne Murray
15 Where the Water Meets the Sky Coyote
7 Windship Terry Carisse
8 Wonderin' If Willy Marie Bottrell

Top new album releases[edit]

US Album Artist Record Label
4 Barbara Mandrell Live Barbara Mandrell MCA
24 The Baron Johnny Cash Columbia
9 Bet Your Heart on Me Johnny Lee Full Moon
3 Big City Merle Haggard Epic
6 Carryin' on the Family Names David Frizzell & Shelly West Warner Bros./Viva
10 Christmas Kenny Rogers Liberty
6 Cimarron Emmylou Harris Warner Bros.
19 Darlin' Tom Jones Mercury
10 Drifter Sylvia RCA
5 Especially for You Don Williams MCA
5 Evangeline Emmylou Harris Warner Bros.
1 Fancy Free The Oak Ridge Boys MCA
1 Feels So Right Alabama RCA
19 Fire & Smoke Earl Thomas Conley RCA
6 Good Time Lovin' Man Ronnie McDowell Epic
8 Greatest Hits Charley Pride RCA
8 Greatest Hits Jim Reeves & Patsy Cline RCA
1 Greatest Hits (& Some That Will Be) Willie Nelson Columbia
6 Guitar Man Elvis Presley RCA
23 Hey Joe! Hey Moe! Moe Bandy & Joe Stampley Columbia
5 Hollywood, Tennessee Crystal Gayle Columbia
7 I Love 'Em All T. G. Sheppard Warner Bros./Curb
24 I'm Countryfied Mel McDaniel Capitol
25 John Anderson 2 John Anderson Warner Bros.
4 Juice Juice Newton Capitol
11 Leather and Lace Waylon Jennings & Jessi Colter RCA
8 Makin' Friends Razzy Bailey RCA
20 Me and My R.C. Louise Mandrell & R. C. Bannon RCA
19 Midnight Crazy Mac Davis Casablanca
5 Mr. T Conway Twitty MCA
10 Not Guilty Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers Columbia
8 Now or Never John Schneider Scotti Brothers
6 Out Where the Bright Lights Are Glowing Ronnie Milsap RCA
5 The Pressure Is On Hank Williams, Jr. Elektra/Curb
20 Rainbow Stew: Live at Anaheim Stadium Merle Haggard MCA
17 Roll on Mississippi Charley Pride RCA
2 Rowdy Hank Williams, Jr. Elektra/Curb
1 Seven Year Ache Rosanne Cash Columbia
1 Share Your Love Kenny Rogers Liberty
7 Some Days Are Diamonds John Denver RCA
6 Somebody's Knockin' Terri Gibbs MCA
1 Somewhere Over the Rainbow Willie Nelson Columbia
1 Step by Step Eddie Rabbitt Elektra
3 Still the Same Ole Me George Jones Epic
9 Surround Me with Love Charly McClain Epic
12 Takin' It Easy Lacy J. Dalton Columbia
1 There's No Gettin' Over Me Ronnie Milsap RCA
17 Town & Country Ray Price Dimension
23 Urban Chipmunk The Chipmunks RCA
2 Waitin' for the Sun to Shine Ricky Skaggs Epic
4 Where Do You Go When You Dream Anne Murray Capitol
22 With Love... John Conlee MCA
5 Wild West Dottie West Liberty
9 Years Ago The Statler Brothers Mercury
19 You Don't Know Me Mickey Gilley Epic

Other top albums[edit]

US Album Artist Record Label
43 As Is Bobby Bare Columbia
59 Ask Any Woman Con Hunley Warner Bros.
49 The Best of Jerry Lee Lewis Jerry Lee Lewis Elektra
38 Between This Time and the Next Time Gene Watson MCA
54 Bobby Goldsboro Bobby Goldsboro Curb
41 Christmas Country Various Artists Elektra
34 Christmas at Gilley's Mickey Gilley Epic
34 Christmas Wishes Anne Murray Capitol
52 Concrete Cowboys The Concrete Cowboys Band Excelsoir
45 Dakota Stephanie Winslow Warner Bros./Curb
26 Desperate Dreams Eddy Raven Elektra
47 Elvis-Greatest Hits, Volume One Elvis Presley RCA
43 Encore George Jones Epic
52 Encore Charly McClain Epic
44 Encore Tammy Wynette Epic
43 Fragile: Handle with Care Cristy Lane Liberty
47 Greatest Hits Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius RCA
35 Greatest Hits Dave & Sugar RCA
42 Heart to Heart Reba McEntire Mercury
43 High Time Dottie West Liberty
30 Hurricane Leon Everette RCA
28 I Ain't Honky Tonkin' No More Joe Sun Elektra
35 I Have a Dream Cristy Lane Liberty
40 I Just Came Home to Count the Memories John Anderson Warner Bros.
33 I Lie Loretta Lynn MCA
40 I'm a Lady Terri Gibbs MCA
33 I'm Gonna Love You Back to Loving Me Again Joe Stampley Epic
56 If I Keep On Going Crazy Leon Everette RCA
67 Invictus (Means) Unconquered David Allan Coe Columbia
49 It's the World Gone Crazy Glen Campbell Capitol
52 Just Like Me Terry Gregory Handshake
54 King of the Road Boxcar Willie Main Street
42 Lettin' You In on a Feelin' The Kendalls Mercury
30 Live! Hoyt Axton Jeremiah
36 Lovin' Her Was Easier Tompall & the Glaser Brothers Elektra
56 Mel & Nancy Mel Tillis & Nancy Sinatra Elektra
39 Minstrel Man Willie Nelson RCA
43 More Good 'Uns Jerry Clower MCA
40 Mr. Hag Told My Story Johnny Paycheck Columbia
42 Mundo Earwood Mundo Earwood Excelsoir
64 My Turn Donna Hazard Excelsoir
33 The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia (Soundtrack) Various Artists Mirage
57 Old Loves Never Die Gene Watson MCA
50 Once You Were Mine Dottie West RCA
29 One to One Ed Bruce MCA
31 Pleasure Dave Rowland & Sugar Elektra
48 Rodeo Romeo Moe Bandy Columbia
47 Rodney Crowell Rodney Crowell Warner Bros.
49 Savin' It Up Debby Boone Warner Bros./Curb
48 Should I Do It Tanya Tucker MCA
42 Sleeping with Your Memory Janie Fricke Columbia
46 Songs for the Mama That Tried Merle Haggard MCA
26 Strait Country George Strait MCA
33 Take This Job and Shove It! (Soundtrack) Various Artists Epic
59 A Tribute to Kris Ray Price Columbia
28 Two's a Party Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn MCA
30 Urban Cowboy II (Soundtrack) Various Artists Full Moon
38 Wasn't That a Party The Rovers Cleveland Int'l.
39 White Christmas John Schneider Scotti Brothers
40 A Woman's Heart Crystal Gayle Liberty

On television[edit]

Regular series[edit]

Specials[edit]

Births[edit]

Deaths[edit]

  • January 31 - Scotty (born Scott Greene Wiseman), 72, one-half of the 1930s-1940s husband-and-wife duo Lulu Belle and Scotty.

Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees[edit]

Major awards[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Juno Awards[edit]

Academy of Country Music[edit]

Country Music Association[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Kingsbury, Paul, "The Grand Ole Opry: History of Country Music. 70 Years of the Songs, the Stars and the Stories," Villard Books, Random House; Opryland USA, 1995
  • Kingsbury, Paul, "Vinyl Hayride: Country Music Album Covers 1947-1989," Country Music Foundation, 2003 (ISBN 0-8118-3572-3)
  • Millard, Bob, "Country Music: 70 Years of America's Favorite Music," HarperCollins, New York, 1993 (ISBN 0-06-273244-7)
  • Whitburn, Joel, "Top Country Songs 1944-2005 - 6th Edition." 2005.

Other links[edit]

External links[edit]