Loretta Lynn, The Oak Ridge Boys and More React to Ralph Emery’s Passing

Country music is mourning the loss of one of its champions. Ralph Emery, esteemed radio and television broadcaster, passed away on January 15. Emery was 88 years old when he died of natural causes.

A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Emery became a fixture on both TV and on radio, prompting several in the country music community to react to his passing.

“It breaks my heart to learn of Ralph Emery’s passing,” Loretta Lynn says. “Ralph and I go way back. He was a Nashville original and you cannot underestimate the role he played in the growth and success of country music. He made you feel at ease and interviewed everyone just like an old friend.”

“Ralph was like a father to me,” says Lorrie Morgan. “When my dad died, he took me under his wing. He was hard on me when he needed to be and very praising of me when he thought I deserved it. He was a great friend and a lover of real artistry of any genre of music. If Ralph approved you, you were in and respected. I will miss my good friend and all the laughs. I love you, Ralph.”

“Ralph Emery was my friend,” Don McClean shared on social media. “I did his show many times and he was kind enough to send me a Christmas card every year. He had that special country music knowledge and that voice. Ralph was to country music what Mel Allen was to the Yankees.”

“ If Ralph liked you … EVERYONE liked you!” said The Oak Ridge Boys‘ Joe Bonsall. “It would seem a lot of folks are going home these days so CELEBRATE LIFE FRIENDS. Life is God’s greatest gift this side of salvation. Goodbye Ralph, Jerry, and Dallas. See you at the House.”

“Ralph Emery understood artists as human beings, and if Ralph liked you, chances are you were gonna make it in Nashville,” Ronnie Milsap said. “I loved him on WSM, and every TV show he ever had on the air.”

“I’m heartbroken about losing Mr. Country Music & good friend Ralph Emery,” said Tanya Tucker. “He was so good to me throughout my career and a big part of it… we’re losing so many warriors that really held our music together… such a sad day. My thoughts, my prayers, my Love goes out to his family.”

“My earliest memories of Ralph Emery are listening to him on WSM Radio,” Rhonda Vincent recalled. “My dad would talk about when he was married to Grand Ole Opry Star Skeeter Davis, and how she would pop in the studio and talk on the air during his late-night shift. Hearing my father talk about this, and listening to Ralph years later on the radio, became a vivid picture in my mind. For many years, Ralph Emery was the heartbeat of country music. He hosted Nashville Now on The Nashville Network. That’s where I came to know him best. He featured the best of the best on his show. Also hosted a morning show in Nashville. His passing is a great loss to the country music community, and he will long be remembered as the host of Nashville for many many years.”

“Ralph was one of the best friends country music ever had,” John Anderson said. “He loved the music but also brought to life the stories surrounding the singers and the songs through his interviews and TV programs. He really helped take our format into people’s living rooms and broaden the fan base with integrity for the art and humor.”

“We admired Ralph Emery, the voice and face of country music for the last five decades,” Alabama said. “He was always a gentleman to us with great respect. We salute a true legend. We will miss you.”

“The country music world has suffered a great loss today with the news of Ralph Emery’s passing,” Collin Raye says. “No one ever in our history promoted our music and country music artists as faithfully and generously for as long as Ralph. He made a huge difference in my career throughout the ‘90s, as well as every single artist who came on the scene. He truly crossed over country music into television and we all benefited greatly. People trusted Ralph’s opinion. Viewers were drawn to him and comfortable with him. He will remain an icon in our business. And even more importantly, he was a very nice, kind man. There will never be another. I’m quite confident he is with the greats from the past as we speak. He’s laughing and telling road stories. We will miss you, my friend.”

“Ralph Emery was often better known than the stars he introduced to larger and larger audiences over the years as Country Music’s foremost ambassador,” adds Sarah Trahern, Country Music Association CEO. “Our format had no better voice over the years than Ralph, who treated Country Music and its stars – many of whom went on to become his friend – with the kind of dignity and respect they deserved for decades. As a Country Music Hall of Famer, he will be remembered among so many of the artists he supported throughout his career. On a personal note, I worked with Ralph for many years, and I always looked forward to his lively stories when we sat down for lunch. My thoughts are with his family today.”

Emery’s numerous accomplishments included hosting the syndicated TV show, Pop Goes the Country, from 1974 to 1980. He also hosted the TV variety show, Nashville Now, and was an author, releasing Memories in 1991, followed by More Memories in 1993, and The View From Nashville: On the Record with Country Music’s Greatest Stars in 1998.

Emery is survived by his wife, Joy, as well as three sons, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Funeral services have yet to be announced.

Everything Nash extends our deepest condolences to Emery’s family and loved ones.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of CMA / Amanda Eckard