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Searching for the Stars at Spring Hill Cemetery

by Rich and Laura Lynch

When the Country Music Hall of Fame announced its 2022 inductees many were happy to see what was considered a long overdue acknowledgment to Keith Whitley. Whitley began his career in 1970, performing in Ralph Stanley's band where he established himself as a lead singer in bluegrass music. Keith moved to Nashville in 1983 to pursue a solo career. During that time, Whitley recorded only two albums but charted 12 singles on the Billboard country charts, and 7 more after his untimely death in 1989. Many of his songs have been covered by other artists such as Garth Brooks who is known to play them in a live setting.

Keith Whitley's final resting place at Spring Hill Cemetery.

We decided that we wanted to pay our respects to this music legend - after a quick search we discovered that he is resting at Spring Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery which is also considered a Nashville Historical Landmark. So on an overcast Sunday we made our pilgrimage there. Our first stop was the office and yes they did have a map of Keith's and other notable graves. Later, we had to return there because we somehow missed Mr. Whitley's spot which was clearly marked on the map but on the grounds the tomb faced a different direction so we had overlooked it on our first search.

A number of other Country Music Hall of Famers reside at Spring Hill including Roy Acuff and Hank Snow. Roy is often referred to as the "King of Country Music" as he is credited with moving the genre from its early "hoedown" style to the singer-based format that helped make it internationally successful. Acuff was an active member of the Grand Ole Opry and along with Fred Rose he founded the first major Nashville based publishing company. Hank Snow was popular in the 1950's and enjoyed a career that spanned more than 50 years. He recorded 140 albums and charted more than 85 singles on the Billboard country charts. Hank was well loved as a traditional country artist who overcame adversity.

The Earl Scruggs monument at Spring Hill Cemetery.

Earl Scruggs is best known for popularizing a three-finger banjo picking style now called "Scruggs Style" which today is a defining characteristic of bluegrass music. Earl's unique approach elevated the banjo from a backing to a lead instrument. Scruggs won numerous awards during his legendary career. He is buried with his wife - Louise Scruggs who was Earl's booking agent and manager. She was Nashville's first woman to become prominent in these roles which was usual in the 1950's. One of her major accomplishments was turning the group into TV personalities which propelled them into stardom. In 2007, the Country Music Hall of Fame created The Louise Scruggs Memorial Forum - an annual event that honors leaders in the music business.

As we were wandering around in search of Whitley we spotted a sizable marker for a couple who had passed on the same day. As we suspected - Billy and Bettie Walker died in a car accident together along with some band members. Billy was a country music singer and guitarist best known for his 1962 hit - "Charlie's Shoes". Walker was nicknamed The Tall Texan and had more than 30 charting records during a nearly 60-year career, plus he was long standing member of the Opry.

Grand Ole Opry great Jimmy Capps at Spring Hill Cemetery.

We also wanted to pay our respects to Jimmy Capps who was the guitarist in the Grand Ole Opry band for many years. He played with The Louvin Brothers, Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Dolly Parton, George Strait, Kenny Rogers, and more. Capps has been inducted into The Musicians Hall Of Fame, the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam named him "Goodwill Ambassador" in 2015.

We found the stars and then some on our visit. Spring Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery is located at 5110 Gallatin Pike South in Madison, Tennessee. They have been serving the Nashville community since 1780. The park like grounds are home to over 40,000. In addition to funeral planning Spring Hill provides grief and healing resources along with special remembrance days throughout the calendar year.

Roy Acuff's final resting place at Spring Hill Cemetery.

Related Links: For more information on SPRING HILL and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Spring Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery | Country Music Hall of Fame


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