Longtime Lexington radio personality remembers the life of Tom T. Hall

Published: Aug. 21, 2021 at 10:44 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Last night, Country Music Hall of Fame singer-songwriter Tom T. Hall died at the age of 85.

His career flourished in Nashville, but it began here in the bluegrass.

Karl Shannon, a longtime Lexington radio personality, has spent nearly 50 years working in radio and met many stars along the way.

But he was always touched by his encounters with Tom T. Hall.

“He always remembered me and I thought that was very nice that somebody of that stature would remember me,” Shannon said.

Shannon first crossed paths with Hall while working at a country music station in Louisville back in 1974.

“We had these shows called country shindigs, and Tom was on one of the shows and so we met and talked and we were both from Kentucky so we talked about that,” said Shannon. “In 1980, I had a band and we were fortunate enough to open the show for Tom T Hall in Frankfort.”

By then, Hall had made the music city home. But his roots were always planted in the bluegrass.

“He worked at WMOR in Morehead and was in radio for a short time, then became a singer-songwriter and stuff,” Shannon said. “But you know he always loved Kentucky and was very proud of his Kentucky heritage.

Hall was known as “The Storyteller” for the way he weaved words into a song.

“His style, you couldn’t copy it. I mean what you heard, you knew it was Tom T. Hall.”

But those words weren’t always conjured in a conventional manner.

“A lot of [his songs] were true life stories too, like ‘Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine’,” said Shannon. “He was at a bar, I think in New York or New Jersey, and there was an older man there who was talking to him about watermelon wine and he wrote that song on the back of an air sick bag from an airplane. He didn’t have anything to write on so he took an air sick bag out of the seat in front of him and wrote the song on a flight and he said he wished still had that.”

Shannon’s memory of Hall both as a musician and as a person will always be fond.

“I will remember him as a friend and Kentuckians should remember him as a great representative of this state,” Shannon said.

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