Tuesday, June 25, 2013

R.I.P. Music Writer Chet Flippo Passes At 69

Chet Flippo
Chet Flippo, country music's pre-eminent journalist whose career spanned from Rolling Stone magazine to CMT, died June 19 at a Nashville hospital following a lengthy illness.

He was 69 and served as editorial director of CMT andCMT.com until his death.

"This is a stunning loss to all of us," CMT president Brian Philips said. "Chet was a stoic Texan, fiercely loyal and intensely private. He was honest to the core and widely regarded as a bit enigmatic, even among his closest colleagues. For all, it was a terrific privilege to work with Chet Flippo.

"Chet Flippo was one of the early Rolling Stone writers and a legendary rock critic. He was the author of seven books, including On the Road With the Rolling Stones. Long ago, I read and re-read my frayed paperback copy of this book, living vicariously through Chet's exotic pirate stories. Chet's 1978 Rolling Stone magazine cover story "Shattered" -- featuring his nose-to-nose confrontation with an angry Mick Jagger -- is the kind of no-holds-barred music journalism that doesn't exist anymore, anywhere.

"Chet was a fierce advocate for country music long before country was cool. In books such as Your Cheatin' Heart: A Biography of Hank Williams, in his writing for Texas Monthly and The New York Times and during his five-year tenure as Billboard magazine's Nashville bureau chief, Chet articulated the virtues and joys of country music with a passion and intelligence that helped make the genre respectable even among snobs and city slickers.

"Chet joined CMT in 2001 and brought that same integrity to his role as editorial director. He interviewed with artists, oversaw the music content of CMT programming and, perhaps most influentially, wrote a regular column for CMT.com called 'Nashville Skyline' in which he celebrated artists who would benefit from his attention and took the industry to task for crimes of trend-hopping, image manufacturing and anything that smacked to Chet of disloyalty to country's core values.

"He was not conservative in his tastes -- Chet championed legitimate musical innovation -- but he loved country music too much to let Music Row get away with fostering hypes and copycat artists on the public. Because his criticisms came from a respected insider and known country music-lover, his columns were taken very seriously by the Nashville community. Chet kept everybody honest."

Before joining CMT in 2001, he was country music editor for Sonicnet.com. From 1995 until joining Sonicnet in 2000, he was Billboard magazine's Nashville bureau chief.

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