Country music legends in Rockford June 17

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-111825088212030.jpg’, ‘Photo provided’, ‘Country music legend Hank Thompson (pictured) and Jim Ed Brown with Helen Cornelius will perform at Rockford Theatre Friday, June 17.’);

The Next Door Inc. has announced the “Q98.5 Legends of Country Concert Series” to kick off at 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 17 at Rockford Theatre.

The first concert of the series showcases legends Jim Ed Brown with Helen Cornelius and special guest Hank Thompson.

Brown began his career in the 1950s, performing first with one sister, Maxine. The Brown duo recorded five singles, including “Looking Back to See,” which made it to the Top 10.

By the time Brown was drafted into the Army, another sister had joined the group. The trio became known as The Browns. As The Browns, they toured with Elvis Presley and appeared on national television.

After Brown returned from being drafted into the Army, The Browns had the honor of recording the first country No. 1 hit to crossover to pop and rhythm and blues charts.

This recording landed them spots on the Ed Sullivan Show and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. The recording sold more than 1 million copies.

In 1967, The Browns had disbanded, and Brown moved on to a solo career. He maintained his career by hosting television shows, appearing on radio and touring.

It wasn’t until after his solo career that Brown hooked up with Helen Cornelius to start a joint career.

Cornelius performed as a child with her sisters and won a number of local talent contests. Once she grew older, it was her songwriting that initially brought her into the professional music scene.

Cornelius had songs recorded by many major artists, including The Oak Ridge Boys, Reba McIntyre, Jeannie C. Riley, Connie Smith, Charlie Louvin and Melba Montgomery, and LaCosta Dottsy—just to name a few.

She first teamed with Brown to record “I Don’t Want To Marry You” in 1976. The song went to No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Top 100, and remained on the top for many weeks in a number of markets.

The duo won CMA awards in “Vocal Duo of the Year,” “Single of the Year” and “Album of the Year” in 1977.

Along with these two legendary performers, Hank Thompson will also be joining the stage for the first concert of the series.

Thompson’s many career highlights make him a legend. He has sold more than 60 million albums internationally.

He was the first music act to receive corporate tour sponsorship, and the first to tour with a sound and lighting system.

Thompson and his band, The Brazos Valley Boys, were voted No. 1 Country Western band for 15 years in a row by Billboard magazine.

He was the first country music artist to ever play in Las Vegas, and his album, Live At The Golden Nugget, was the first “live” country music record ever recorded.

He even had a television show, The Hank Thompson Show, that was the first color broadcast of a variety show on television.

All performers in the series have adequately shown how and why they became legends.

The Next Door Inc., a company that promotes and books local shows, had the idea to begin a concert series to bring country legends to Rockford.

Kevin Yocum, president of the Next Door Inc., said even though they are “looking forward to doing a lot more with Coronado,” they are very impressed with the Rockford Theatre.

“Rockford Theatre is awesome… it’s really like a living room, very intimate,” Yocum said.

Yocum said he hopes to keep the series going and to have a concert every five to six weeks.

“We would like to see more and more people experience a new venue,” Yocum said.

The concert series is open to all ages. General admission is $30 and can be purchased by visiting or

Details on the second concert of the series will be available in September.

From the June 8-14, 2005, issue

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