Al Dexter deserves to be in The Country Music Hall Of Fame

There’s no doubt that Al Dexter is quite deserving of this very distinguished honor. The only question remaining … will the nominating committee finally realize it’s “his time” to be included on the upcoming ballot for induction. (For the class of 2011 that is … the processes are just about complete for the 2010 inductions).

Let’s take a closer look at some facts that should help support his consideration for nomination and induction to CMA’s Country Music Hall Of Fame …

The Argument For Induction

Below is the exact criteria for Hall Of Fame induction as outlined by The Country Music Association.

Each element will be examined and our argument for induction put forth in red ….

Candidates for the Hall of Fame will be appraised by Electors in accordance with the criteria below:

1. Basic Standard – A candidate basically is to be judged on the degree of his/her contribution to the advancement of Country Music and on the indelibility of his/her impact.

Al Dexter made one of the most significant contributions of all time to the advancement of Country Music by composing and recording one of the biggest selling crossover hits ever (his “Pistol Packin’ Mama” sold over 3 million copies). The historical significance of that crossover success was that it forever opened the eyes of popular music fans everywhere to the merits of country music, expressly indicated by the fact that “Pistol Packin’ Mama” successfully reached the #1 spot on the Popular Hit Parade (the first country recording to ever accomplish this feat). Additionally, Al Dexter has been recognized by countless historians and music researchers for his role in introducing what appears to have been the first use of the term “honky tonk” in Country Music with the recording of his first hit song in 1936, “Honky Tonk Blues”. Each of these significant impacts remain in the forefront of Country Music history to this very day … some 65+ years after those milestone events first occurred.

2. Individual Candidacy – Only individuals may be elected to the Hall of Fame. Companies, publications, radio stations and other groups–many of which significantly foster Country Music –are not eligible for Hall of Fame recognition.

Al Dexter certainly qualifies as an individual.

3. Scope of Activity – Flexible authority is vested in the Electors in identifying the scope of a candidate’s activity in Country Music. The individual may have excelled in a narrow, specific sphere . . . such as songwriting, publishing, musician, recording artist, etc. or may have been active in several areas. In any event, a candidate must have achieved definitive leadership in his/her own field of Country Music activity. However, it is definitely not mandatory to honor the leaders in every activity related to Country Music. A candidate truly must compete with all candidates in all fields, as well as with all candidates in his/her own field.

Regarding this criteria element, Al Dexter shines brightly among others … those already inducted as well as those yet to be so recognized. Not only was Al Dexter a fine musician (organ, mouth harp, banjo and guitar) and singer, he was also a top-notch individual songwriter and collaborator. Additionally, Al was clearly one of the biggest Country Music recording artists of the entire 1940s decade. In later years, Al Dexter attached his name to the Al Dexter and ALDEX record labels, all to be a part of continuing the promotion of Country Music tp as far and wide-reaching an audience as he could. Al Dexter pretty much “did it all”.

4. Span of Influence – The time factor of a candidate’s impact on Country Music is completely flexible. It may cover an uninterrupted span of many years or it may cover two or more distinct and separated time cycles. Conceivably, even a candidate may earn Hall of Fame recognition by one transient act, momentary in time, providing the impact on Country Music is deemed significant enough. Longevity of involvement with Country Music, therefore, will not in itself warrant recognition in the Hall of Fame.

Al Dexter enjoyed one of the longest and impactful careers in all of Country Music. He began in the 1920s entertaining Texas fans at local barn and square dances. He formed the Texas Troopers in the early ’30s. The group recorded for Okeh and Vocalion during the rest of the ’30s and into the ’40s. In 1944 (the first year when charts can be accurately predicted), Dexter scored four number ones on the country charts.
The last of the war years were also successful for Dexter: “I’m Losing My Mind Over You”/”I’ll Wait for You Dear,” hit number one and number two respectively in January 1945, with the former spending seven weeks at number one. His second double-sided hit of the year, “Triflin’ Gal”/”I’m Lost Without You,” both hit the Top Five in August. In February 1946, Dexter’s “Guitar Polka” spent almost four months at number one; it was his biggest country hit and managed the Top 20 on the pop charts (also producing the number two B-side “Honey Do You Think It’s Wrong”). After “Wine, Women and Song” also hit number one later in 1946, Dexter recorded three more Top Five singles during 1946-1947, “It’s Up to You,” “Kokomo Island,” and “Down at the Roadside Inn.” His final chart singles were the 1948 Top 15 singles “Rock and Rye Rag” and “Calico Rag.”
All told, Dexter received 12 gold records for million-sellers in the five-year period from 1943 to 1948.

5. Influence on Others – A most significant criterion in evaluating a candidate will be his/her inspirational effect on others . . . the degree to which he/she multiplies his influence through others to create impact on Country Music far beyond his/her own direct individual contribution.

Points already made in section 1 and section 4 more than adequately address Al Dexter’s accomplishments that provides influence on others. He not only inspired countless songwriters and artists to perpetuate the “honky tonk” sound, he then helped instigate their efforts to broaden the appeal and reception of Country Music the world as a whole. Hall Of Fames members Merle Haggard and Lefty Frizzell were direct recipients of Al Dexter’s influence and inspiration.

6. Quantity vs. Quality – A candidate’s ability to expand the popularity of Country Music is a quantitative virtue. The professionalism of his/her activity is a “qualitative” one. Both quantitative and qualitative criteria are to be considered equally and separately important; conceivably, one may be present without the other.

Al Dexter is fortunate in that he easily meets and exceeds the double-edged criteria element of both quantity and quality. He chart successes during his career and gold record accomplishments address both aspects. The ongoing life of his music, coupled with his songs’ appeal across other genres (Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters’ version of “Pistol Packin’ Mama” is just one example) was highly significant as well.

7. Devotion to Others – Furthering Country Music by selfless devotion to the interests of others may enhance the candidacy of an individual, but it is not essential to winning. The activities of a candidate may be completely self devoted and still be considered significant enough to warrant recognition.

Al Dexter was not a selfish, not self-serving man. His motivations from the very start were quite simple … to make and perform music that would bring pleasure and enjoyment to others. When he was given the opportunity to reach out to an entire world’s audience, he did do by creating music that was fun, emotional, inspiration and downright enjoyable. Was he an entertainer who enjoyed the profits of his work? Certainly. Would he have created and performed as well for a small percentage of his career earnings? Most likely. Al hits the mark on this criteria element as well.

8. Professional Conduct and Image – A candidate is expected to have practiced the highest caliber of professional conduct in order to enhance the public image of both himself/herself and Country Music.

When names of performers are brought up to demonstrate the essence of professional conduct and image in Country Music, four of the most frequently mentioned names are Roy Acuff, Loretta Lynn, Hawkshaw Hawkins and … yes, Al Dexter. Two of those individuals are already in the Hall … two are awaiting their due recognition. Time itself has helped memorialize the name of Al Dexter. His induction to the Hall Of Fame should be the capstone to that memorial.

9. Personal Morals and Behavior – The selection process is not a judgment of personal morals and behavior, providing the latter do not negatively affect the professional conduct of the candidate and the public image of Country Music.

Search high and low … you’ll not find a single instance of Al Dexter’s personal morals or behavior being brought into question. His affect on Country Music was nothing if not absolutely positive.

In conclusion … the administrative staff of the website feels strongly that the nominating and induction committees of the CMA should aggressively introduce and promote the name of Al Dexter for induction to the Country Music Hall Of Fame.

His moment for consideration is long overdue … and now is the time to initiate the steps to make it right … because, it’s truly been … “So Long Pal”.

Since Election to the Country Music Hall of Fame is solely the prerogative of the CMA, we encourage anyone who’s interested in supporting Al Dexter’s consideration, to contact the Country Music Association directly by email, letter, phone call or fax and let them know how you feel.

Be one to emind them … they truly do have an obligation of significant importance … to “Honor Thy Music”!

CMA Headquarters
One Music Circle South
Nashville, Tennessee 37203
United States
+615.244.2840 (Telephone)
+615.726.0314 (Fax)