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Wayne County's Musical Legacy: A Journey through the Walk of Fame and Music Museum

In the heart of Tennessee, Wayne County stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of music. With its strategic position amidst the renowned Nashville, Memphis and Muscle Shoals music centers, this quaint locale has cultivated a rich musical culture, drawing artists from various genres and nurturing an array of talented singers, songwriters and musicians. This vibrant history is celebrated through the Wayne County Walk of Fame and the Wayne County Music Museum.

As the famous line from the song "Nashville Cats" goes, "Nashville Cats play country music when they're two," reflecting the early musical inclinations of many Wayne County musicians. This essence is captured in the Wayne County Walk of Fame, a tour that showcases the life and times of these remarkable artists. The tour, beautifully narrated by Nashville Radio Personality Josh Kuhn, is based on the rich biographies from Anita Miller's "The Heritage Project: A Collection of Musical Talent in Wayne County, Tennessee," a must-have book available at the Wayne County Museum.

One of the luminaries featured is Neal "Tywop" Jones, born near Scotts Hill in 1922. Tywop's musical journey began with learning guitar as a boy, leading him to work with legendary figures like Eddy Arnold and the Johnson Brothers. His talent shone across various radio stations and even during his time as a radar operator in World War II. Tywop’s return to WTJS in 1946 marked a turning point, as he incorporated comedy into his act and later joined Columbia Records. He left an indelible mark on Wayne County when he retired there in the 1970s, becoming a beloved disc jockey and a local icon until his passing in 2005.

Ralph Davis, another Wayne County prodigy, moved to Michigan in 1951 but his heart remained in Tennessee. His musical prowess, honed in the army and later in Detroit's music scene, led him back to Nashville. Davis’ journey included cutting records, forming the Western Rhythm Boys, and an eventual stint at the Grand Ole Opry, where he stayed for forty years until 1999. His story, including memorable moments like improvising a window fix on a cold night, highlights the grit and passion that defined his career.

Earl "Peanutt" Montgomery's tale is one of versatility and devotion. Born in 1941 in Wayne County, Peanutt's career spanned roles as a songwriter, singer, musician, and later, a Baptist minister. He collaborated with legends like Bob Dylan and Patsy Cline and saw George Jones record 73 of his songs. His life took a transformative turn in 1976 when he embraced Christianity, eventually leading him to pastoral work.

Mark Collie, a multi-talented figure in music and acting, is another proud son of Wayne County. His songs have been performed by country greats like Tim McGraw and Martina McBride, and he's appeared in notable films and TV shows. Collie's commitment extends beyond entertainment; he's an advocate for diabetes research and a supporter of military personnel.

Loyd Howell's musical journey is a tale of self-discovery and exploration. Starting with a Gene Autry cowboy guitar, Howell developed his skills in various venues, eventually mastering a style reminiscent of Maybelle Carter. His story is one of natural talent and relentless pursuit.

Melba Montgomery, born in 1938, found fame through her duets with George Jones and others. Despite a successful solo career, her duets remain her most celebrated work. Her journey from a ten-year-old with a guitar to a star at the Grand Ole Opry is a story of determination and talent.

The youngest of the Davis Brothers, Glen Davis, represents the legacy of a musical family. His journey from a drummer in the family band to a celebrated musician is interwoven with the lives of his talented siblings and relatives, including the renowned Earl "Peanutt" Montgomery and Melba Montgomery.

The Wayne County Walk of Fame and Music Museum not only celebrate these individuals but also the collective musical heritage of the county. As visitors walk the path of fame or explore the museum, they are not just witnessing the history of music in Wayne County; they are experiencing the soul of a community.


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