Chet Flippo, Ft. Worth native, famed journalist, author and editor, Vietnam war vet and University of Texas alum, died this morning. He was 69. No cause of death has not been disclosed.
it might have been a partial result of losing his wife, Martha Hume, herself a celibrated music journalist and author, who died on December 17, 2012.
In a world where it’s often hard to tell where music journalism ends and where PR begins Flippo was the classic example of the fan as critic.
While teaching journalism as the University of Tennessee in Knoxville he received an offer from Billboard to be their bureau chief in their Nashville office. In 2001 he joined CMT and started an online column, “Nashville Skyline.” it’s here that Flippo would champion the famous, like the Dixie Chicks and Garth Brooks, and Americana upstarts like Ryan Adams and Lucinda Williams. He had cover country music so long he felt the genre shift sharply beneath his feet. He then had the courage to call out the country music industry he felt was ruining the legacy and the music he held so dear.
Flippo was there when Willie and Waylon brought the rednecks and the hippies together in Austin. He penned the liner notes for Wanted: The Outlaws, the first platinum-selling album in country music and Willie Nelson’s thematic masterpiece Red Headed Stranger.
Saving Country Music advocates that the Country Music Hall inc=duct Flippo into it’s ranks in it’s non-performer category. I concur. A voice like his, learned and celebratory , come along only once in a great while. Those rare instances should be honored while on this earth and after they’ve left it.