Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood were on hand to announce Ricky Skaggs as one of the newest inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame Tuesday morning, March 27, in Nashville. Ricky will be formally inducted into the Hall of Fame this fall at the organization’s annual Medallion Ceremony.
The Hall of Fame’s class of 2018 will also include two posthumous inductions, fiddle player Johnny Gimble and Dottie West. Johnny’s playing can be heard on hundreds of classic hits and earned him two Grammys and five CMA Awards in his career. Dottie’s celebrated career spanned the early ’60s through mid-’80s and included five No. 1 hits: “All I Ever Need is You,” “A Lesson in Leavin’,” “Are You Happy Baby?” and two of her collaborations with Kenny Rogers, “Every Time Two Fools Collide” and “What Are We Doin’ in Love.” Her work with Kenny earned the pair CMA vocal duo of the year awards in 1978 and 1979.
At the press conference announcing their induction, Ricky broke down several times as he remembered his parents’ influence on him as a musician and man of God. He also thanked Garth for always being so complimentary of him.
Ricky said, “He has always spoke[n] so well of me and honored me, and I’ve always appreciated that so much. He didn’t have to, but he has.”
Ricky Skaggs stands as one of the main artists leading mainstream country back to a more traditional, acoustic sound throughout the ’80s, but his heart has always been in bluegrass music. The harmonies and songs from bluegrass would inform his biggest country hits, including 1985’s “Country Boy,” 1983’s “Highway 40 Blues” and the classic 1983 chart-topper, “Don’t Cheat in Our Hometown.”
Ricky made his name in the ’70s as an ace bluegrass instrumentalist and singer hailing from eastern Kentucky. As a five-year-old in the late ’50s learning the mandolin, Ricky actually shared the stage with the father of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe. The child prodigy also appeared on Flatt & Scruggs’ TV show in the early ’60s before teaming up with fellow Kentucky native Keith Whitley to form the band East Kentucky Mountain Boys. Check out the two of them performing “Don’t Cheat in Our Hometown” back in 1972.
Ricky would go on to join Ralph Stanley’s band, the Clinch Mountain Boys, in the early ’70s before releasing his own album with his band Boone Creek later that decade. He joined Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band in 1977 and was a key player in her 1980 bluegrass album, “Roses in the Snow.”
In 1981, Ricky joined Epic Records and released his first mainstream album, “Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine.” It was an instant success with two No. 1 hits — “Crying My Heart Out Over You” and “I Don’t Care.” He married his wife, musician Sharon White, in the summer of 1981 and would go on to win two CMA Awards in 1982, including male vocalist of the year.
He joined the Grand Ole Opry that same year and continued his streak of No. 1s over the next four years with “Heartbroke,” “I Wouldn’t Change You if I Could,” “Highway 40 Blues,” “Honey (Open That Door),” “Dont’ Cheat in Our Hometown,” “Uncle Pen,” “Country Boy” and “Cajun Moon.”
In 1985, Ricky was named CMA entertainer of the year, and he continued scoring top 10 country hits through the end of the decade, including the 1989 No 1 “Lovin’ Only Me.” Also in 1989, Ricky produced Dolly Parton’s hit album, “White Limozeen,” which produced the hits “Yellow Roses” and “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That.”
In the ’90s, Ricky returned to his bluegrass roots with his band Kentucky Thunder. They would go on to win the IBMA instrumental group of the year eight times. Ricky is also a 13-time Grammy winner picking up trophies in the country, bluegrass, gospel and children’s album categories.
In 2016, Ricky served as producer for Hillary Scott & The Scott Family’s Grammy-winning faith-based album, “Love Remains.”