In the early 90’s, Hal Ketchum a Greenwich native in my hometown was a country star who was commercially successful in the mainstream of country music. Thanks to his hit song “Small Town Saturday Night” which is one of the biggest country songs of all time and made Hal a superstar. The album “Past the Point of Rescue” became one of the biggest selling albums of all time because of that song.
When I was a kid in high school, I was a huge fan of Hal’s music. Owned three of his records on CD which I still have sitting on my CD shelf: “Past the Point of Rescue”, “Sure Love” and “Every Little Word”. He was a mainstream star then with those three albums. After those three albums, though, people started losing interest in his music and people totally forgot who he was over the years. Despite all that, he kept releasing records and touring so it wasn’t about the fame and money for him at all. It was about the music for him.
Admittedly, I stopped buying Hal’s albums after “Every Little Word” but I’ve always respected him and admired him. I try to follow his career to see what he’s up to and even though he no longer had the superstar status like he had in the 90’s, he continued to play live up until dementia hit him. He never gave it up. Kept playing and touring until he couldn’t do it anymore. He no longer play those huge arena shows anymore and went back down to playing smaller venues but that didn’t matter. It was about the music for him. He loved performing live. When he perform live before dementia hit him, he was still playing all the hits that was all over country radio. He continued to play live with his longtime guitar player and collaborator, Kenny Grimes.
If you want to listen to real country music, listen to Hal Ketchum. This is what real country is supposed to sound like. Too bad country music doesn’t sound like this anymore.
I got to meet the man briefly myself at a show backstage at the Washington County Fairgrounds back in the 90’s, I think. It was just a “Hello” and a handshake and he signed my CD too which I still have. I’ll never forget that show, though.
We lost another good one. A hometown hero in my hometown of Greenwich, N.Y. Hal had a helluva a voice and his songs were awesome. Definitely an inspiration with my own music as well.
RIP Hal and thanks for the great music.