By Matthew Young, RealWV
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is the first of a three-part series documenting the 2023 West Virginia Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Part one will serve as an overview of the event and the posthumous inductees. Part two will cover Buddy Griffin, and part three will cover Barbara Nissman. Also, I will try my level-best to not geek out while writing these articles. But please be patient if I do – this was a really cool night.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – “I’m feeling great – I’m loving West Virginia. I don’t wanna leave. Will someone here adopt me? I don’t wanna go back to Detroit – it’s too much fun here!”
That’s what Kount Funkula, band-leader of the P-Funk Outlawz, told The RealWV in the greenroom of the West Virginia Culture Center moments before the start of the 2023 WV Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
“I want to stay here,” Funkula added. “I like the peace and quiet. I haven’t heard one police car – no gunshots. I’ve been in cities all my life, and I’m tired of it. I want a pipe and a rocking chair, and I want to become a professional grandpa and spoil my grandbabies – that’s all I wanna do.”
Kount Funkula and the P-Funk Outlawz were at the ceremony to perform on behalf of posthumous inductees, Fuzzy Haskins and Calvin Simon. Rounding out the 2023 Hall of Fame class were the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers and Winston Wall (also posthumous inductees), as well as Buddy Griffin and Barbara Nissman.
Legendary record-executive and country music producer Jim Foglesong was the 2023 recipient of the Spirit Award for his “passion for promoting and sharing music with those who need to hear it most.”
Born in Lundale, West Virginia in 1922, Foglesong spent his early-years in Charleston where his father worked in the coal mines. During World War II, Foglesong joined the Army, where he performed in USO shows for his fellow troops.
During an interview ahead of his 2004 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Foglesong said, “In the shows that we did, the music in the barracks – everything – I was really exposed to country music.”
After graduating from the Eastman School of Music in 1950, Foglesong worked as a background singer for such artists as Connie Francis and Neil Sedaka. In 1964, Foglesong began working as a producer for RCA Records, producing the likes of Julie Andrews, Robert Goulet, and Doris Day. After several visits to Nashville in the 1960s’, Foglesong was bitten by the country bug. This led to his collaborations with Bobby Sykes, Les Paul and Mary Ford, and the Ames Brothers.
After a few more moves and several corporate mergers, Foglesong was eventually named President of Capitol Records’ Nashville Division in 1984. Throughout his illustrious career, Foglesong helped to guide the musical talents of the Oak Ridge Boys, Barbara Mandrell, Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Reba McEntire, Lee Greenwood, George Strait, Tanya Tucker, Sawyer Brown, and Garth Brooks among many others.
Foglesong passed away on July 9, 2013, at the age of 90.
Fayette County-born Charlie McCoy – a 2008 inductee to the WV Music Hall of Fame – shared his memories of Foglesong, saying, “This is a guy that I knew well, and I worked with him in the studios in Nashville on several occasions. He was just a great, great guy.”
Offering her congratulations virtually was 2011 WV Hall of Fame Inductee, Kathy Mattea, who said, “It’s a thrill for me to see Jim Foglesong be honored with this Spirit Award. He did a kindness for me when I was just a young singer in Nashville – his kindness was based on us both being from West Virginia and the Charleston-area, and I never forgot it.”
“Congratulations, Jim,” Mattea added. “I’m sorry you’re not here to see this, but I know that you would be honored by these people remembering you and your contributions to music.”
Before the inductions got underway, the audience was treated to a performance by Just Us Lilllys – an Elkins-based trio of musicians consisting of singer-songwriter John Lilly, along with his adult children, Georgia and Mason. John Lilly previously served as editor of West Virginia’s celebrated “Goldenseal Magazine” from 1997, until 2015.
The group performed “Crosstie,” from their recently-released album, “Not Far from the Tree.”
The evening’s first induction was that of southern West Virginia’s bluegrass legends, the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers.
Founded in 1938 by Ezra, Ray and Charlie Cline, as well as guitarist Gordon Jennings – and continuing with various band members until 1966 – the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers recorded for the Cozy, RCA, and Stanley record labels. The group is responsible for such bluegrass-classics as “Brown Eyed Darling,” and “Windy Mountain.”
Wheeling-native, Grammy Award winner, and WV Hall of Fame member Tim O’Brien was on hand to welcome the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers to the 2023 class of inductees. Accepting on behalf of the band were former lead singers Bobby Osborne and Paul Williams, Ezra Cline’s grandson, Ricky, as well as several other members of both the Cline and Osborne families.
“This is a great night for us,” Ricky Cline said. “Up here accepting this award, we have Penny Cline, my mom – Ezra’s daughter-in-law. Tina Osborne, Bob’s (Osborne) daughter, and Ezra’s granddaughter. Troy Cline, Ezra’s grandson. Robby Osborne, Ezra’s grandson. Bree Honaker, Ezra’s great-granddaughter. Jennifer Cline, Ezra’s granddaughter-in-law. Scotty Cline – who is my father that passed away – would have loved to have made it, along with Pat Cline (also deceased), who is Ezra’s daughter.”
In celebration of the induction, Tim O’Brien, Missy Raines, Ray Cossin, Jan Fabricius, and Jim Gaberhart performed the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers’ classics, “Pain in my Heart,” “Dirty Dishes,” and “Windy Mountain.”
Next to be inducted was Charleston’s very own musical prodigy, Winston Walls.
As the legend goes, at the age of 12 – and having never played before – Walls was struck in the head by a brick, and suddenly became a skilled piano player. Next were the drums, which Walls studied with fellow Charlestonian, Frank Thompson. After that, and at the behest of the legendary Bill Doggett, Walls became a talented organist.
Throughout his career, along with the likes of Groove Holmes and Jimmy Smith, Walls traveled the country as part of “Battle of the Organ” shows. Walls also played backup for artists such as Dionne Warwick, Ike and Tina Turner, the Pointer Sisters, Al Green, and Charlie Pride. Walls even had a brief stint as a professional wrestler, competing under the name, “The Claw.” Winston Walls’ father, house pianist Harry Van Walls, was inducted into the WV Music Hall of Fame in 2015.
Presenting Winston Walls’ WV Music Hall of Fame induction was blues guitarist, band leader, and fellow hall of famer, Bob Thompson. Accepting the induction on Walls’ behalf was his good friend, saxophonist Marshall Petty.
“As Winston would say, ‘somebody say yeah,’” Petty said, before hearing the word returned from the audience. “Say it again, somebody say hell yeah!”
“I spent about 10 years on the road with [Winston Walls],” Petty continued. “Those ten years were full of education, excitement, and all sorts of experiences. Winston didn’t have a formal education with music. Most of his education came out of the streets of Charleston, from people like Mr. Frank Thompson, and Mr. Hubert Jones – better known as ‘Rabbit.’ That’s what cultured Winston to where he was.”
“During our time on the road, we had a lot of laughs,” Petty added. “Winston would let anyone come on stage and sit in. On one occasion, the gentleman came to the gig with his horn. And when he heard him tuning up, Winston didn’t approve of him. Then when we went on stage and Winston was introducing the band, he said, ‘So-and-so would have been playing, but he has a toothache.’”
To commemorate Winston Walls’ induction into the WV Music Hall of Fame, Stix Hooper, Caesar Frazier, Michael Lipton, and Rob Dixon performed Walls’ favorites, “Rock Candy,” “I’m an Old Cowhand,” and “Thank You Pretty Baby.”
Inductees Calvin Simon of Beckley, and Clarence “Fuzzy” Haskins of Elkhorn, passed away in 2022 and 2023 respectively. However, their impact on the musical-landscape will live on for generations to come.
The two set the world on fire as members of Parliament-Funkadelic, which began in 1950s’ New Jersey as a George Clinton-led barbershop quintet – known simply as “The Parliaments.” From there, the men influenced the sounds of rock, soul, gospel, and funk in ways that no one had before, or has since.
Simon and Haskins joined the P-Funk Allstars in the 1980s, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, along with every other member of Parliament-Funkadelic. In 2019, Simon and Haskins received Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Welcoming Calvin Simon and Clarence “Fuzzy” Haskins to the 2023 class of the WV Music Hall of Fame was Parliament-Funkadelics-historian, Gabe Gonzales, who began by asking, “Y’all ready to give up the funk?”
“There’s much love here in West Virginia, and I’m honored to be here,” Gonzales said. “I got into this music half a century ago when I was five-years-old. I had one of those little Mickey Mouse record players, and I got sick of playing those Peter Pan records on there. Then my uncle, one day he came in my room and said, ‘Here, put this on – they’re from outer space.’”
“When I put it on, the record just completely sucked me in,” Gonzales continued. “To this day – it changed my life musically. People need to know that funk music is not what you think it is – funk is an attitude and a way of life. Parliament-Funkadelic – with this band we get country music, rock music, reggae music, soul music, and everything else under the sun. And the first time I heard a song called ‘Qualify & Satisfy,’ (sung by Haskins) it gave me the chills.”
Accepting the induction on behalf of Fuzzy Haskins and Calvin Scott were the daughter of Fuzzy Haskins, Joy McInnis, and son of Calvin Scott, Nowell Scott.
“At six-foot-five-inches tall, my dad was always bigger than life to me,” McInnis said. “When I was old enough to know what he did and the songs that they sang, I was so proud to tell everybody about who he (Haskins) was. Anytime something came on the radio, I would say, ‘That’s my dad! That’s my dad!’”
“I’m just so honored to be here to accept this award on his behalf,” McInnis continued. “May you continue to rest in peace, daddy. I miss you, and I love you.”
Scott began by saying, “Praise the Lord, everyone!”
“That was my father’s greeting, that was his way of saying hello,” Scott said. “And we do praise the Lord, because we’re still here and we thank God for all that he’s given us – for our parents. Dad (Scott) was just such a special person in more ways than one. He was West Virginia from start to finish. He never left that part of him, and that part of him never left.”
In celebration of the induction of Calvin Simon and Clarence “Fuzzy” Haskins, Kount Funkula and the P-Funk Outlawz – comprised of Greg Sanders, Twon Green, Gabe Gonzales, Duke Charelle, Tiye Styles, and Nanette LaShay – performed the P-Funk Medley.
To close the show, an assortment of the night’s guests, musicians, and inductees performed the Fuzzy Haskins classic, “My Automobile.”
It must be mentioned that the WV Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony would not be possible without the passion and dedication of the show’s executive producer, and Hall of Fame Executive Director Michael Lipton.
Please stay tuned to The RealWV to read about the inductions of Buddy Griffin, and Barbara Nissman.