On May 4th, three more stars were added to The Music City Walk of Fame.
The Walk of Fame Park was established in 2006. May 4th marked the 25th ceremony where Star 98 was awarded to Joe and Linda Chambers, Star 99 was awarded to Eric Church, and Star 100 was given to Butch Spyridon.
Bill Cody was the emcee who informed, “Music City is not a slogan, it’s a title that the city has earned due to the creative people who have woven music into the fabric of this city’s history.”
Cody provided background information on each of the attendees.
Joe and Linda Chambers
Songwriter Joe Chambers was mentored by Billy Sherrill and Conway Twitty. While writing hit songs for stars like B.J. Thomas, George Jones, and Joe Diffie, Joe became a fan of the stellar talent of the studio musicians.
Early on, Joe and Linda Chambers opened a small music store, Chamber’s Music, which quickly led to other stores throughout middle Tennessee. Their store became a haven for musicians of all genres. Their connection to so many talented artists inspired them to open the Musician’s Hall of Fame. It first opened in 2006.
Now the Musician’s Hall of Fame boasts one of the most incredible collections of musical history and is one of the most unique and interesting venues in Nashville. After moving to the Municipal Auditorium, they became affiliated with the GRAMMY organization, and they opened the GRAMMY gallery. Their incredible gallery is the only GRAMMY presence in Nashville and is an extension of the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles. Joe passed in 2022, but Linda continues to carry on that dream of championing and advocating for musicians.
Close friend, Garth Brooks was chosen as the person to present Linda (and Joe posthumously) with their star.
He said, “As an artist, there is nobody more important than the men and women who play on the records. I wouldn’t have a career without a piano player named Bobby Wood. These are the true heroes of the music business.”
Joe and Linda Chambers decided that these people should be recognized.
Brooks continued, “While artists do everything for themselves, what these two have done and continue doing is for somebody else. That makes me love them even more.”
Linda Chambers thanked everyone for their support and was especially grateful for everything that Butch Spyridon has done to promote tourism in Nashville.
She said of her late husband, “Joe’s biggest joy in life was always to give credit to lift up someone else. The love Joe had for musicians and the passion to make sure they were recognized for their talent was infectious.
Twenty-five years ago, Joe Chambers believed it was his and Linda’s job to start preserving Nashville’s rich heritage of all genres of music. With a love of the instruments, artifacts, and especially the musicians, Joe and Linda did a great service to Nashville and the world of music with their vision which would ultimately become the Musicians Hall of Fame.
Eric Church (aka the Chief) is a seven-time ACM Award winner, four-time CMA Award winner (including the 2020 award for Entertainer of the Year), and 10-time GRAMMY nominee, Eric Church has amassed a passionate fanbase around the globe known as the Church Choir in addition to a critically acclaimed catalog of music including 30 Gold, Platinum, and multi-Platinum certified songs.
Platinum-certified songs like “How ’Bout You,” “Guys Like Me”, “Smoke a Little Smoke,” “Love Your Love the Most” “Record Year,” “Round Here Buzz”, along with the Double-Platinum certified “Like a Wrecking Ball,” “Talladega” and the 3x Platinum-certified Springsteen,” and “Drink In My Hand” are just some of the reasons his fans are so ardent.
Not only that, he has also made an everlasting impact on Music City by being generous with his time and money as he focuses on preserving its authenticity.
ESPN’s Marty Smith inducted Eric Church and is one of his best friends who credits the country star for saving his life. When Smith was going through a very dark time in his life, he states that Church wrote a record that “provided the perfect vehicle to carry my emotions, whatever they happen to be.”
Church’s words made Smith feel heard, even though at the time, they had never met. They did eventually meet at a honky-tonk in Church’s home state of North Carolina.
Smith confessed to the Chief, “You saved my life. I lost my old man this year and I needed something to hold onto. Your words provided me that and I know that playing these little honky tonks 250 nights a year is about to kill you. I know you know that you are better than this, but please understand, every night in each one of these little honky tonks, there is somebody who desperately needs what you are about to say, and tonight it is me.”
Smith continued, “What drew me to him was this rare combination of brashness within humility. There’s an edge to his songs, a depth, and vulnerability in what he as to say. He is fearless to go his own way because he knows he is representing his fans.”
When Church came to Nashville in 2000, he knew no one. He had a guitar, mediocre songs (at that time), and big dreams.
He told the crowd, “To be here today and to have a building (six-story bar/restaurant called “Chief”) going in soon is beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. I am thankful that I did stay in town, (when it was recommended that he leave) and this has become my home.”
He thanked his wife, his manager, his Maker, but especially his fans.
As a self-proclaimed outsider, there is nobody who has built a more passionate fanbase than Eric Church. But what makes him so exceptional is that he doesn’t pursue what’s popular, he pursues what’s right.
Butch Spyridon was recruited to Nashville in the early 1990s to lead the city’s tourism industry as head of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation (NCVC). He quickly realized that Nashville’s greatest asset, the music, was not being utilized as its calling card. He advised community leaders that Nashville needed to support and promote the music that was uniquely created in Nashville. Though it took much longer than expected, leaders eventually embraced the moniker, “Music City.”
Under his leadership, the NCVC has led the strategic development of Nashville’s hospitality industry, and Music City has evolved into a top global destination, generating $8.8 billion in visitor spending annually.
Not only that, combined with the NCVC’s ongoing sales and marketing initiatives, Nashville hotel demand has grown faster than any other top 30 U.S. city since 2013 and was named a top destination in the world by multiple publications for 12 consecutive years.
Spyridon is responsible for Nashville’s Walk of Fame to which the Fisk Jubilee Singers were awarded the first star. Several years ago, he was nominated for his own star by the late Ed Hardy but would not even consider until he retired. Spyridon told Hardy; “You will be in the Walk of Fame before I will.”
Hardy was posthumously inducted into the Walk of Fame last fall. And now since Spyridon is retiring, he has no more excuses for not being honored.
Garth Brooks advised that Butch Spyridon was instrumental in the creation of the National Museum of African American Music. He was on the board for 20 years before he saw his efforts come to life.
Brooks continued, “The next time you are wandering around (Nashville) wondering who thinks of all this stuff? It’s Butch Spyridon. It is only fitting since he created this program, that the 100th star has his name on it.”
Spyridon thanked Linda Chambers and Eric Church for their contributions to Music City but admitted that he was a little uncomfortable being in the spotlight.
He advised that Ed Hardy argued with him for seven years about getting his star. “I beat him and got him in the Walk of Fame first, and I thought I had escaped. But upon retirement, I ran out of runway, out of rope, out of excuses, so here I am today. After seven years, I’ve come to accept that is going to happen and I can’t get out of it.”
Spyridon stated he was honored to receive the star and accepted it on behalf of all those who work at the Nashville Convention and Visitors Center.
The Music City Walk of Fame was started in 2006 to honor those who put the music in Nashville.
Spyridon explained, “More than anywhere else in this city, the Walk of Fame shows how deep, wide, broad, and diverse our musical heritage is. Country Music is the front door, but all music has a place in Nashville.”
The Walk of Fame Park honors singers, songwriters, producers, composers, managers, and anyone involved in the music industry.
You can follow the Nashville Convention and Visitors Center on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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Bethany Bowman is a freelance entertainment writer. You can follow her blog, Instagram, and Twitter.