Help Ronnie Henn's family produce a deluxe CD reissue of his early 80's Nashville recording sessions.
"I remember New Year's Eve, December 1979. It would have been 1979, because the Orioles had just won the World Series. I remember watching the ball drop on TV, and at midnight dad shook my hand and made a resolution. He said, 'In ten years you're going to be a professional baseball player, and I'm going to be a professional singer.'" *
-Ron Henn, Jr., 2010
Though my older brother went on to play just a year of junior varsity baseball, our dad spent much of the next decade trying to make good on his resolution. A star high school athlete from Preble County, Ohio, he had already flirted with the entertainment business, managing a semi-pro wrestler in Dayton in 1972. His first trip to Nashville in 1975 was a sort of fact-finding mission; he worked a temp job while singing in bars and observing artists such as Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner in open recording sessions.
After 1980, he made a more serious effort at a country music career, returning to Nashville repeatedly to work odd jobs while recording dozens of demos. Nearly all of these were recorded at Country Crossroads, one of many little studios on Music Row where a vocalist could pay a small price to sing over a canned Nashville Sounds backing track. By then living in Richmond, Indiana, dad had privately developed a warm Elvis/Orbison baritone croon which he used on material from Flatt and Scruggs' "Rocky Top" to the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun." He also experimented at Country Crossroads, reciting original stories over instrumental backing tracks and singing his own poems and lyrics while plunking the few chords he knew on a heavily-reverbed acoustic guitar. In 1983 and '84, he pressed his four favorite tunes on a pair of DIY singles and tossed them into the void to see what might happen.
In addition to his athletic and vocal ability, dad was also a gifted mechanic who flipped more than 200 cars. One of these was an early 50s Pontiac that, in 1985, caught the eye of a Hollywood production assistant working in Central Indiana on a new movie called Hoosiers. After meeting up to complete the sale, dad was informed that the director no longer needed the car but instead needed someone to play the Hickory Huskers' team scorekeeper. Dad was offered the role and is visible in a gray suit and slicked-back hair just above Gene Hackman during all of the home game sequences. Coincidentally, the production assistant was also a talent scout for a company with alleged ties to CBS Records. She asked to hear dad's singles and made him an offer on the spot. The contract was inked in Indianapolis in 1986 at the Hoosiers world premier.
The exact details of what happened next are best left to long form liner notes, but, maybe predictably, the agreement dissolved into a caricature of music business nonsense. Various interlopers made claims on the sizable advance and there was threat of a lawsuit between the parent company and dad's new manager/agent. Against the backdrop of constant bickering, and under pressure to perform a New Year's Eve show in front of a packed theater with two days’ notice and no opportunity to practice, dad walked out. The voided contract legally froze his services as of January 1, 1987, and he was released from it at midnight on January 1, 1990, ten years to the second of his New Year's resolution.
Our goal is to produce a substantial, commercial-quality, archival CD package to document our dad's story--something in the vein of collections by labels such as Numero Group. Our funding goal is based on quotes from manufacturers who have worked with Rykodisc and Rhino, and this amount would largely subsidize pressing 1,000 CDs with o-cards and booklets featuring extensive liner notes, reproductions of original label artwork, press material, and photos. The missing pieces are your support and interest.
*see update 2
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pledged of $1,200 goal
seconds to go
Jun 12, 2010 - Sep 10, 2010
Pledge $5 or more
Receive a digital preview of the CD featuring 5 mp3's and an assortment of pictures and original artwork delivered to your e-mail as a .zip file.
Pledge $15 or more
Receive a copy of the finished CD as soon as it is available plus a COMPLETE digital preview featuring 14 mp3's and exclusive images.
Pledge $20 or more
Get the CD along with an EXPANDED digital download featuring 2 exclusive bonus tracks.
Pledge $50 or more
Receive a copy of the CD along with a personalized note of thanks from Ronnie and the EXPANDED digital download plus an additional 5 bonus tracks.
Pledge $100 or more
Backers at this level receive the CD and a digital download with all abovementioned bonus tracks, plus a personalized note of thanks from Ronnie and an extra special thank you in the CD liner notes. At the end of the project, the highest donor will also receive one of the three remaining original copies of the "Always On My Mind" single.