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Tuesday April 4th, 2000

Mississippi Hall of Fame inducts trio of famed Gibson artists

The Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame honored its native sons who carried the state's celebrated music heritage and Gibson guitars to legendary, even star-studded heights including Elvis Presley (Tupelo, MS), B.B. King (Indianola, MS), and Robert Johnson (Hazlehurst, Mississippi). It's a "who's who" of the blues, rock and roll, and jazz from their beginnings to present day.

Here's a list of this year's winners:

    Country/folk/blue grass (performers)
    • Pioneer Status

      Jimmie Rodgers     Pine Springs, Mississippi
      Deemed the Father of Country Music - Only musician in four major halls of fame - Sold more than 18 million records in the last six years of life

    • Contemporary Status

      Tammy Wynette      Tremont, Mississippi
      Called the First Lady of Country Music

    Country/folk/blue grass (song writers, arrangers, composers)
    • Pioneer Status

      Elsie McWilliams     Harperville, Mississippi
      Was behind the scenes of Jimmie Rodgers's success - wrote thirty-nine of his hit songs. Member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame

    • Contemporary Status

      Ben Peters    Greenville, Mississippi
      Wrote song hits for most major recording stars, is in Songwriters Hall of Fame - Songs sold over 100 million copies and have been played over 18 million times on radio and TV

    • Pioneer Status

      Lester Young     Woodville, Mississippi
      Voted the Greatest Tenor Saxophonist ever - Started cool jazz movement

    • Contemporary Status

      Milt Hinton     Vicksburg, Mississippi
      Key to big band swing-bop as a bass player and composer - Long time influence on jazz having played with Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and Cab Calloway

    Rhythm and Blues
    • Pioneer Status

      Bo Diddley     McComb, Mississippi
      Called the Father of Rhythm and Blues

    • Pioneer Status

      Robert Johnson     Hazlehurst, Mississippi
      Cited as the most influential 18th century blues artist - Recognized on the US postage stamp series "Legends of Blues and Jazz" - Inspired the movie Crossroads which was based on his life

    • Contemporary Status

      B.B. King     Indianola, Mississippi
      Deemed the King of the Blues and a legend - Has won eight Grammy's, Presidential Medal of Honor, National Heritage Fellowship and Kennedy Center Honor

    • Pioneer Status

      Blackwood Brothers     Ackerman, Mississippi
      Defined the quartet style that became the basis of Southern gospel music

    Rock and Roll
    • Pioneer Status

      Elvis Presley     Tupelo, Mississippi
      Artist of the century - King of Rock and Roll

    • Contemporary Status

      Jimmy Buffett     Pascagoula, Mississippi
      With "Margaritaville," he began a hugely successful singing and writing career - more than twenty-five years of sold out tours and best selling albums - top forty highest paid entertainers with $26 million in 1995 and eighty Parrothead fan clubs worldwide

    Theater and Broadway
    • Contemporary Status

      Lloyd Wells     Laurel, Mississippi
      Arranged/composed/conducted more than 200 musical shows for stage and TV - performing as a studio musician on Broadway and Nashville - Arranged/conducted the ONLY official Gershwin estate-sanctioned "Gershwin Review" which played in 90 cities

    • Contemporary Status

      Mundell Lowe     Laurel, Mississippi
      Composed for NBC (17 years), CBS, Screen Gems, United Artists, 20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers (is also a world famous jazz guitarist)

    For a complete list of all the nominees honored click here.

    From Mississippi many of these musician pioneers headed for Memphis and Chicago to develop new genres from the Delta blues of their birth and early years. Gibson is honoring this tradition with the construction of a new guitar manufacturing facility just off Beale Street in the historic Memphis downtown district. The plant will offer working tours and house the Smithsonian Institute's "Rock 'N Soul: Social Crossroads" on the second floor, a permanent exhibit of the social and cultural history of music in the Mississippi delta and Memphis. The 7,800-square-foot Museum is scheduled to open later this year. There are also plans for a Gibson Café and Guitar Gallery featuring live performances and food.

    The 512,000-square-foot plant could eventually employ 500 people to manufacture ES series archtop hollowbody and semi-hollowbody guitars. All are currently manufactured in Gibson USA's Nashville facility.

    For more information about the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame write call or email the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, P.O. Box 1270, Clinton, MS 39060,

    View a collection of photos from a live B.B. King performance last year.

    For information about job opportunities at the new Memphis facility visit or email


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