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Ironton is Bare country

Published 2:20pm Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Country music legend, Ironton native inducted into Country Music Hall of Fame


Last April Ironton native Bobby Bare got the call of his lifetime; this past Sunday night he had the best seat of his lifetime.

Bare, a country music singer, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame for an impressive career in the industry that has spanned over six decades. At first, the singer admits, he wasn’t aware how big the moment was.

“I got the call back in April about the same time I turned 78,” Bare said. “I guess I was kind of in shock. Because I really didn’t realize it was that big of a deal until I told my wife and kids and they broke down in tears.”

Bare broke onto the national stage in 1962 when Chet Atkins signed him to RCA records. He soon released a single entitled, “Detroit City,” that became his first top 10 hit, and earned Bare a Grammy Award. Following that success, Bare had a string of other hits that topped the charts and garnered various award nominations.

Bare’s time at RCA was not only highlighted by these successes, but by the way in which he achieved them. Today, frequently there are musicians who want artistic control of their music. Bare was one of the earliest artists to receive such control, although he says he just simply had to ask for it.

“I guess in that regard I’m kind of a pioneer,” Bare said. “But I didn’t realize it at the time, I just wanted to get my music done. Elvis was recording on RCA at that time and he’d record all night, taking up all the producers’ time. So, I finally just asked Chet if I could produce my own record and he said go ahead.”

Starting out singing Little Jimmy Dickens’ songs in local businesses, and sneaking into the church to play the piano as a teenager, Ironton got to know Bare long before the nation did. It’s these early years that Bare credits for his musical passion.

“First time I ever played live I was 16 years old at the PBK Bar & Grill down on Third Street,” Bare said. “After I got done playing, this guy, he was drunk, or must have been drunk, because he handed me a $20 tip.”

Receiving that tip was the moment that he decided to pursue music professionally.

“I had never seen $20 before in my life. That was a lot of money to me,” Bare said. “As soon as I saw it, I thought maybe this wouldn’t be bad for a career.”

Aside from his musical beginnings in the city, Bare also recalled fond memories of the time he spent downtown and how alive Ironton was during his youth.

“I used to love to go downtown to the Ro-Na Theater and watch movies,” Bare said. “I’d go down there and watch all the westerns. Ironton was an exciting place then and it was full of people.”

According to Peter Dukes, who has been running the original Bobby Bare website since 1998, the thing that makes Bare special is his longevity.

“In music, the most important thing you have to have is staying power,” Dukes said. “That’s what Bobby Bare has. Fans contact me on the site all the time to tell me about seeing a Bare concert.

Every time no matter the size of the venue, they say he gave a great show and that’s a credit to his endurance in the industry and his passion for music.”

Bare, credits his longevity to a laid-back lifestyle, one grounded in family values and strong morals.

“Most of the people in the business that I know had issues with drugs, or got married multiple times and didn’t know their kids,” Bare said. “I didn’t want it to be like that for me.

“It turns out that’s the best choice I ever made. I’ve been married nearly 50 years and have a great relationship with my kids. If I’d got into that craziness, I don’t think I’d been able to last as long.”

Currently recording on Plowboy records, Bare released his first album in seven years, “Darker Than Light,” last year. Cowboy Jack Clement and Kenny Rogers were also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame as part of the 2013 class.

“What a night Sunday night was I sat right there in the front row next to Kenny Rogers and his family,” Bare said. “It was the best seat I’ve ever had.”

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