Although we love modern country music, nothing quite comes close to the stars we knew and loved during the 1970s. From the epic cowboy boots to their wide-brimmed hats, and their acoustic guitars – they were darn tootin’ amazing. But have you ever wondered what these country music legends are up to nowadays?
Johnny Cash – Then
Let’s be honest; Johnny Cash was by far one of the most famous country music stars of the ‘70s. From ‘I Walk the Line’ to ‘Ring of Fire,’ even those who aren’t fans of Cash (*gasp*) will know at least one of his songs. During this era, Johnny Cash expanded his brand outside of intimate and large music venues and even hosted his own music show – which proved to be extremely popular in the United States.
Johnny Cash – 2003
Unfortunately, the world lost a country legend in 2003 after Johnny Cash sadly passed away from complications from diabetes. Despite this, his spirit still lives on in the country world, and fans remember him for his impressive songbook, his famous friends, his all-black outfits, and the fact that he spent much of his life campaigning for human rights, and performing in free-prison concerts. Amazingly, Cash has been inducted into the Country, Rockabilly, Rock and Roll and Gospel Halls of Fame.
David Allen Coe – Then
David Allen Coe was one of the many country music stars in the 1970s that did not manage to obtain mainstream fame during this era – but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have any fans. In fact, David formed a huge underground following thanks to his appearance within the outlaw movement within the world of country music. Nevertheless, he did score a huge hit with the likes of ‘You Never Even Called Me By My Name’ and ‘Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile.’
David Allen Coe – Now
Despite the fact that David Allen Coe never reached the mainstream world of country music, he still continues to make music for his fans to enjoy. Yep, at 78 years old, he is still writing music today! Although he isn’t one of the most popular musicians in the world right now – with one New York Times reporter calling one of his songs ‘racist, misogynistic, homophobic and obscene’ – he still has a major fan following within the realm of country metal.
Lynn Anderson – Then
If you’re a fan of country music (duh, of course you are) and were around in the 1970s, you might remember the smash hit, ‘(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden.’ Well, this mega hit was written and performed by Lynne Rene Anderson. After signing to Columbia Records in 1970, Anderson became a major leader in exposing the world of country music to the world of television – and is still known as one of the most popular crossover artists of the decade.
Lynn Anderson – 2015
After an impressive career, Lynn Anderson sadly passed in 2015 from a heart attack. Although this news shocked the world, fans of Anderson were able to rest easy with the fact that their favorite singer/songwriter became the first female country star to be awarded an American Music Award – along with a whole host of other major awards and honors. As if that wasn’t enough, Lynn also spent her free time competing as an equestrienne and won numerous national titles in show jumping.
Moe Bandy – Then
Moe Bandy had a hugely successful country music career during the 1970s and was the kind of artist who didn’t mind sharing the stage with another. In fact, he rose to fame as both a solo artist and a duo with his singing partner, Joe Stampley. After giving up a career in bull riding, Moe rose to fame for popular songs such as ‘I Just Started Hatin’ Cheatin’ Songs Today’ and the number 7 hit, ‘Bandy the Rodeo Clown.’
Moe Bandy – Now
In recent years, Moe Bandy has spoken up openly about his career in the 1970s, stating that he wrote his songs to really get to grips with what life often throws at you. He has since continued to release music every so often – but now most of his attention goes into the American Theater. Bandy opened the theater just a few months after he moved to Branson, Missouri, where he showcases up and coming talent, as well as his own.
Glen Campbell – Then
Between the 1960s and 1970s, Glen Campbell was at the top of his game. As well as releasing his own music – which included a whopping 70 albums and 45 million record sales – Campbell was also a leading figure in the world of televised country music. In fact, he was the hugely popular host of The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which ran from 1969 until 1972. Some of his most notable songs include, ‘Universal Soldier,’ ‘Dreams of the Everyday Housewife and ‘Rhinestone Cowboy.’
Glen Campbell – 2017
In 2017, the world sadly lost another country legend after Glen Campbell passed away at the age of 81. Amazingly, Glen continued to tour the world and perform his music until 2011, when his Alzheimer’s diagnosis rendered him too ill to travel. Despite this, Glen still managed to maintain a reputation within the world of country music and released his last and final studio album in June 2017 – just a month before his death. We miss you, Glen!
June Cash – Then
Although most of us associate the Cash name with Johnny, it seems as though his wife also made a splash in the world of country music. In fact, June would often collaborate with her husband to create songs, perform on stage, and record in the studio. While she only released one album of her own solo material, it’s believed that June was a huge inspiration for most of Johnny Cash’s songs. She was also a hugely talented musician, and played a whopping four instruments!
June Cash – 2003
June Cash devastated the world when she died just four months before her husband in 2003, following complications during heart surgery. Nevertheless, June continued to make music and perform as a solo artist and duo with her husband up until 2003. Despite the fact that many people know her as ‘the wife,’ June Cash earned every single Grammy she was awarded (she was awarded a whopping 5 Grammys!) and her induction in the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
John Conlee – Then
After moving to Nashville in 1971, John Conlee soon made himself known within the world of country music. Although he wasn’t officially signed to a record label until 1976, John used the time to write hit songs that would snake their way up the Billboard Hot Country Singles – including ‘Rose Colored Glasses,’ ‘Backside of Thirty,’ and ‘Baby You’re Something.’ Just five years after he was signed, Conlee became a member of the prestigious Grand Ole Opry music hall.
John Conlee – Now
With around 14 songs in the top ten, John Conlee is still regarded as one of the most popular country musicians in the world. His debut in the ‘70s is still remembered by those who love the genre (AKA everyone that ever existed), and he has made it his mission to continue his legacy. Although he is no longer creating new and exciting music, Conlee still performs and released hugely successful compilation albums that we all obsess over.
Mac Davis – Then
Amazingly, Mac Davis didn’t get his start in the world of country music. In fact, he became a household name after he wrote numerous songs for the King, Elvis Presley – including ‘A Little Less Conversation,’ ‘Memories’ and ‘In the Ghetto.’ After many years, Davis decided to try and make it on his own and create his own country songs. This risk paid off, as he is still known for his hugely successful hit, ‘Baby, Don’t Get Hooked On Me.’
Mac Davis – Now
After his initial outbreak of fame in the ‘70s, Mac Davis went on to host his own television show, he became a successful actor, and he even performed in Broadway shows – so you could say he is kind of a big deal. Nowadays, Mac continues to perform his own music but has gone back to his roots as a songwriter. In recent years, he has written hits for the likes of Avicii, Bruno Mars, Keith Urban Weezer, and more.
Jimmy Dean – Then
Okay, this one is a bit of a cheat – because Jimmy Dean made his first appearance into the world of fame in the late ‘50s. However, his country music career reached its peak in the ‘70s, so we couldn’t NOT include him, could we? During this decade, Jimmy Dean continued to make a name for himself for his smash hits, including ‘The One You Say Good Morning To,’ ‘I.O.U’ and ‘Slowly’ which he performed with Dottie West.
Jimmy Dean – 2010
Unfortunately, Jimmy Dean passed away in 2010, and the world mourned the death of this true entertainer. Despite this, his legacy is still strong within the world of country music and television, and most people now remember him for his role within The Jimmy Dean Show, his appearance in Diamonds Are Forever, and his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. After his death, this icon was entombed in a piano-shaped mausoleum overlooking the grounds of his incredible estate.
John Denver – Then
After growing up in a military family, John Denver knew where his true passion lay; the world of music. During the ‘60s, Denver made a respectable name for himself as a member of folk groups, but his true claim to fame came in the early ‘70s – when he first started to release his own solo music. With around 300 songs and 200 songwriting credits to his name, Denver is regarded as one of the greatest country music stars of all time.
John Denver – 1997
In a devastating turn of events, this musician and amateur pilot died in 1997 at the age of 53, after his personal aircraft crashed mid-flight. Up until his death, John Denver was an avid member of the entertainment industry. Not only was he known for his music and his songwriting skills, but he continued to host and appear in major television shows as he got older. Just a few months before his death, Denver recorded his final album.
Merle Haggard – Then
Throughout his late teenage years, Merle Haggard was constantly in trouble with the law and was arrested numerous time. Yet, he turned his life around in the late ‘60s, when he performed with his band, The Strangers. The band helped to create the Bakersfield sound together before Merle decided to go his own way and write songs that really meant something to him and the world – including ‘The Roots of My Raising,’ ‘Always Wanting You’ and ‘Grandma Harp.’
Merle Haggard – 2016
Sadly, Merle Haggard passed away in 2016 following a short bout of double pneumonia – but that wasn’t before the world got to show their appreciation for the man and his music. Yep, over the course of his career, Merle managed to score himself major honors, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Kennedy Center Honor, as well as inductions into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.
George Jones – Then
Like many people in the public eye, George Jones struggled for most of his professional life with alcoholism. Although this illness led to the nickname, ‘No Show Jones,’ George did try his best to keep up his musical prowess throughout the course of his career – and there’s no denying the fact that he was talented. With over 150 hits to his name, Jones was the creative genius behind songs such as ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ and ‘White Lightning.’
George Jones – 2013
Despite his declining health throughout the ‘70s ‘80s and ‘90s, George Jones took a vow of sobriety in 1999 and managed to keep up his country music lifestyle until 2013 – when he sadly passed away from hypoxic respiratory failure. Although he never managed to score a single within the top 40 charts, many musicians such as Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones believe this to be a wrongdoing and maintain that they have always been inspired by George and his music.
Loretta Lynn – Then
Like many other musicians on this list, Loretta Lynn has lived and breathed country music ever since she was a teenager. During the mid-50s, Lynn decided to start her own band and perform within numerous taverns in Washington, before packing her bags and moving to Nashville. Before too long, she was a major name within the country music scene, and released huge hits such as ‘Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)’ and ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man).’
Loretta Lynn – Now
As if Loretta Lynn wasn’t cool enough already, this country music star is still going strong today – and wowing us all with her impressive voice, stage presence and looks at a whopping 85 years old! Over the course of her career, Lynn has been awarded notable honors from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. In recent months, Loretta has canceled her tour dates and postponed her latest album release due to unknown health issues (*sobs*).
Ronnie Milsap – Then
If you cast your mind back to the 1970s, we can imagine it won’t be difficult to remember the impact Ronnie Milsap had on the world of country music. As a singer and pianist, this guy had it all – although we were a little put out when he released his first song, ‘I Hate You.’ After we realized that he WASN’T singing about us, we were able to appreciate his other smash hits, including ‘It Was Almost Like A Song’ and ‘Smoking Mountain Rain.’
Ronnie Milsap – Now
Over the course of his career, Ronnie Milsap was awarded with numerous awards for his songwriting and singing skills – including six Grammy Awards and an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In recent years, the 75-year-old has continued to release new music for his fans and has often collaborated with major artists across the world. However, he embarked on his last and final tour in 2014, as he believed the traveling was too much pressure on his health.
Willie Nelson – Then
Okay, put your hands up if you HAVEN’T heard of Willie Nelson? (*Crickets chirping*) That’s because Willie Nelson is one of the biggest names in country music, and truly made a name for himself during the ‘70s. Throughout this decade, Willie released smash hit albums including Shotgun Willie, Red Headed Stranger, and Stardust. As one of the main men within the outlaw country genre, Willie has amassed an incredible and devoted fan following over the last few decades.
Willie Nelson – Now
Amazingly, Willie Nelson is still going strong today – and not just as a country music singer. In fact, this guy has got a resume longer than our arm. As a musician, songwriter, singer, activist, poet, actor and author, Willie definitely puts us all to shame at 84 years old. Nevertheless, Willie is still a huge name within the world of pop culture and is seen as a musical and humanitarian icon for millions of people across the States alone.
Marie Osmond – Then
The Osmond family is one of the most famous musical families in the world – yet, many people forget that Marie was never actually a formal part of the Osmonds! During the ‘70s, Marie steered away from the fame of her family and debuted her solo country music career. She released her first single, ‘Paper Roses’ in 1973, and continued to release popular singles and albums throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s. She also teamed up with her brother Donny for numerous musical and TV shows.
Marie Osmond – Now
Amazingly, Marie Osmond is still going strong in the world of music. Although she is no longer primarily a country singer or a solo artist, she has amassed an incredible amount of fame since she teamed up with Donny Osmond. Since 2008, the pair has continued to release singles and albums, as well as perform sold-out shows at their Las Vegas residency. Let’s be honest; things really couldn’t get any better for her. She’s got it made.
Ray Price – Then
With his impressive baritone voice, it may come as a surprise to know that Ray Price didn’t always want to be a country singer. In fact, he originally wanted to be a veterinarian, before he was drafted into the US Marines during WWII. After his time in the military, Ray returned home to Texas and started to play in local bars before scoring a recording contract in the early ‘50s. His epic career continued into the ‘70s when he released major hit singles.
Ray Price – 2013
In 2012, Ray Price shocked the world when he confirmed that he was battling pancreatic cancer. Sadly, the cancer took hold of him in December 2013, and Price died at his home. In the months before his death, Price was continuing to make his transition from a country singer to a gospel singer and was preparing himself to take on around 100 tour dates. Despite the sad ending, Ray will always be remembered as one of the most iconic country legends of all time.
Bob Dylan – Then
This star took to the stage in the ‘60s after dropping out of college to pursue a music career. As a youngster, Bob Dylan always knew that he wanted to become a musician but could never find a genre that he enjoyed. Having initially tied to make it in rock and roll, Dylan eventually found country music that gave him a way to express his emotions through song. Dylan collaborated with the Band for many years before breaking off and going solo.
Bob Dylan – Now
Bob Dylan has continued to grow as a musical genius as he made his way through various genres including gospel and blues. But that’s not all this country star has been up to over the years. In 2012 this star picked up the Presidential Medal of Freedom, just four years before taking home the Nobel Prize in Literature! When he isn’t taking the world by storm, he is living all around it in his many different properties.
Charley Pride – Then
As a teenager, Charley was torn between his two loves: music and baseball. On the one hand, he had taught himself to play the guitar, while on the other he had always dreamed of becoming a professional sports star. After two years in the military, Charley’s baseball career came to an end before he went full time as a singer. The early ‘70s saw Charley’s career reach its full height. In 1971, his single Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’ became his signature tune.
Charley Pride – Now
Amazingly, even having a tumor removed from his vocal chord back in 1997 hasn’t stopped Charley from singing. In fact, he celebrated the success of the surgery by giving the hospital an impromptu five songs at a check-up! This country legend has even found a way to combine his love of music and baseball. Charley part owns the Texas Rangers. He annually joins the team for their spring training, as well as singing the national anthem at many of their games.
Linda Ronstadt – Then
Linda Ronstadt has ridden a roller coaster of a music career as she has made her way through just about every genre of music, including rock and jazz, but she is most recognized for her time as a country legend. Linda started out her music career as part of the Stone Poneys before flying solo. It was during the ‘70s – at the height of her career – that this singer took home her first Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
Linda Ronstadt – Now
Sadly, this singer retired from touring back in 2011, but that wasn’t the worst news to come. Two years later in 2013, at just 67 years old, Linda announced she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The diagnosis means that Linda “can no longer sing a note” after decades of dominating the music world. For many years the former singer had been working as a political activist. However, it looks as though Linda has now decided to retire fully.
Hank Williams Jr. – Then
With a father like country legend Hank Williams Sr., it may be no surprise that this Jr. has followed in his father’s footsteps. In fact, Hank looked up to his father so much that he actually began his career by covering his music before his voice developed into his own musical style. Hank Jr. grew to dominate the 1980s with his many instruments, including the drums, banjo, upright bass, harmonica, piano, fiddle, dobro, and steel guitar.
Hank Williams Jr. – Now
A staggering 22 albums later and Hank Williams Jr. is still dominating the county music scene. In fact, he is still performing and writing music to date. When he isn’t taking over music, Hank Jr. spends his time as a political activist. However, not all of his views have been well received. He now writes songs for the Republican party and has made some controversial statements about Barack Obama’s time in the White House. Sadly, his views were aired on Fox & Friends…
Marie Osmond – Then
Marie was one of only three Osmond siblings that never signed up to be part of the family band. However, after some sibling rivalry, the family’s management convinced Marie to pick up singing. Little did she know how much she would enjoy getting behind the microphone! Her first single, Paper Roses, was released in 1973 and shot to the top of the country music charts. It wasn’t long before Marie was outdoing all the other Osmonds on her way to the top.
Marie Osmond – Now
Marie has continued to ride out her incredible music career as she has dominated the top of the country charts for the last 50 years. However, she has had plenty of time to pursue other adventures too. Marie has taken up acting, as well as hosting Donny and Marie with her brother Donny Osmond, alongside designing dolls. This has led to Marie conquering the crafting world with her business ventures, such as releasing a sewing machine in addition to her doll collection.
Emmylou Harris – Then
This country music legend first burst onto the scene in the mid-1970s. Just one year later, Emmylou was taking home the Best Female Country Vocal Performance after her album release, Elite Hotel. Her popularity saw Emmylou contribute to many other stars’ albums, including Guy Clark, and Linda Ronstadt. By the end of the decade, Emmylou had released a number of hit albums, and taken home various Grammy Awards. This singer even managed to release a hit Christmas album with several stars.
Emmylou Harris – Now
It looked as though the ‘90s were about to mark the end of Emmylou’s career as radio stations opted for the younger musicians of the time. However, this singer wasn’t going to let anything bring her down. Instead, Emmylou took her new music on the road and has been recording and performing live ever since! In 2018, this singer took home the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for her incredible contributions to music and is said to be appearing at the C2C.
Bill Anderson – Then
This country legend started his incredible career almost 70 years ago back in the 1950s. Over the next two decades, Bill Anderson continued to write a collection of songs but failed to make his way into the country charts. It wasn’t until the ‘60s that Bill began to make an impact on the country world. By 1978, Bill was in the top 5 no less than 19 times with songs such as I Get a Fever, and For Loving You.
Bill Anderson – Now
Over the years, Bill has written a number of hit singles for many other country legends. All of his hard work has seen Bill get chosen to become part of the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018 – an incredible honor for anyone in the music career. Although Bill continues to sing and perform music, he has also been the host of Country’s Family Reunion – a show focusing on country music stars from the last half of the 20th century.