The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum announced its 2013 class of inductees, which includes Exile and The Kentucky Headhunters, two bands that made impacts in pop and rock music, topping the list.
"The induction ceremony next April is going to be a wing-ding," Exile vocalist and bassist Sonny LeMaire said, referring to his own group and the HeadHunters.
When members of the Headhunters entered the studios at WKYT-TV, where the announcement was made during Tuesday's noon news show, band members exchanged boisterous greetings that almost threatened to derail the broadcast.
"For us to go in with Exile, who is obviously a big influence on everybody, just makes it all the more great," said Headhunters bassist Doug Phelps.
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Rounding out the contemporary class of inductees were Dry Ridge native Skeeter Davis, who had country and pop hits in the 1950s and '60s; and Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman, who received the national award in the Governor's Awards in the Arts last year.
The pioneer inductees are The Hilltoppers, a vocal group that formed at Western Kentucky University; country musicians Linda Lou and Emory Martin; and comedian and banjoist Old Joe Clark.
Original Hilltopper and Hazard native Donald McGuire recalled Tuesday how the band recorded Glasgow native Billy Vaughn's Trying on a $30 tape recorder in 1952. "Five months later we walked on The Ed Sullivan Show with the No. 5 song in the country," he said. The group went on to be the No. 1 act in the nation, but its fame was short-lived with the advent of rock 'n' roll.
McGuire said he didn't think the honor would bring The Hilltoppers' music back into the spotlight but added, "This is icing on the cake."
Linda Lou Martin, whose husband died in 2006, told WKYT anchor Bill Bryant she was excited about the honor. "It's one of the greatest things I've ever had happen," she said.
Exile guitarist and vocalist J.P. Pennington said he also thinking of someone who wasn't there.
"One thing I've been thinking about a lot is they're going to induct Jimmy Stokley, who was our original lead vocalist, who died in 1985," Pennington said. "I've been thinking a lot about Jimmy. Anybody who followed Exile in the early days would know Exile was Jimmy Stokley, and we sort of rode his coattails. It's rewarding to see he's going to be inducted as well."
The induction ceremony will be April 12, 2013, at the Bluegrass Ballroom in Lexington Center.