Photo Credit – Ricky Skaggs photographed in 1985 by David Redfern/Redferns
Billboard Article – 7/9/2016 by Jim Asker
Skaggs dominated Hot Country Songs with “Highway 40 Blues” & more before making history on the Bluegrass Albums chart.
ON JULY 9, 1983, RICKY SKAGGS’ “Highway 40 Blues” sped to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, marking his fifth No. 1, all earned consecutively. The Larry Cordle-penned track, from Skaggs’ first No. 1 on Top Country Albums, Highways and Heartaches, won airplay thanks to Skaggs’ love of bluegrass mixed with radio-friendly hooks.
A master of many instruments, Skaggs received his first mandolin at age five. By his teens, he, along with Keith Whitley, joined Ralph Stanley’s The Clinch Mountain Boys. A member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1982, the youngest ever at the time, Skaggs recently joined Vince Gill and Patty Loveless to perform Gill’s “Go Rest High on That Mountain” at the funeral service for Stanley (June 28).
Skaggs has scored 11 No. 1s on Hot Country Songs and four on Top Country Albums. He’s added a record seven leaders on Billboard’s Bluegrass Albums chart (which launched in 2002), including his most recent entry, 2013’s Cluck Ol’ Hen: Live, with Bruce Hornsby.
Most recently, Skaggs, 61, has produced Hillary Scott & The Scott Family’s Christian/country album Love Remains, due July 29. “When we started thinking about this album, I only had one person in mind to produce, and that, of course, was Ricky Skaggs,” Scott told Billboard. “He told me that he was very booked, but he’d do the album if we could do it quickly. As it turned out, it took a year and he just did an incredible job in the studio.
“The give-and-take between artist and producer was perfection. His versatility is what amazed me, that he could take [first single] ‘Thy Will,’ and sound-wise it’s contemporary Christian, and then on something more organic, like ‘The River,’ the sound is completely different. I am so happy to have worked with him.”