HIGHWAYS TO HISTORY
Make this summer's vacation fun and unique by traveling to landmarks like Patsy Cline's hometown, the city that calls itself the "birthplace of country music" or even Garth Brooks' old stomping grounds. Pack up the car and make this your summer to discover the real roots of country music.
NEWNAN HIGH SCHOOL
Alan Jackson - as well as his wife, Denise - graduated from this small-town school. Fans can also grab a treat at the local Dairy Queen, where Alan first met his future bride. When Alan sings "Remember When," these are two of the places you can be sure he's remembering.
HANK WILLIAMS' GRAVESITE
Oakwood Annex Cemetery
1305 Upper Wetumpka Rd.
The titles of several of Hank's songs - including one of his last big hits, the ironic "I'll Never Get out of This World Alive" - are carved on his tombstone. At the bottom is the inscription LUKE THE DRIFTER, a name under which Hank sometimes recorded. For extra chill, visit at midnight.
Country Club Rd., Stillwater, Okla.
Garth Brooks once worked here as a bouncer - and met wife Sandy while on the job. The biggest event on the club calendar is the April 30-May 1 annual Calf Fry festival. If you have to ask what a calf fry is, well, just use plenty of ketchup.
JIM REEVES MEMORIAL
"Gentleman" Jim - who crooned such hits as "Mexican Joe," "Am I Losing You" and "He'll Have to Go" - died in a plane crash July 31, 1964, near Nashville. A lifesize sculpture of the star marks his grave, located three miles east of Carthage, Texas, on U.S. Highway 79. Cowboy crooner Tex Ritter was also from Carthage, a town apparently fond of singers with three-letter first names.
706 Union Ave., Memphis, Tenn.
The legendary recording studio that gave birth to the careers of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and other legendary stars is open every day with public tours every hour on the half hour. Call (800) 441-6249. When you buy your ticket, say, "Thankyouverymuch." Because you know they've never heard that before.
Hank Williams Jr. suffered severe injuries on this picturesque mountain, located in the Bitterroot Range of the Rocky Mountains on the Idaho- Montana border. While hiking up the mountain with some friends in August of 1975, Hank lost his footing and fell 500 feet. He survived, but only after nine operations and a grueling recovery process during which all of his rowdy friends came over, we can suppose ... with get-well cards.
"BIRTHPLACE OF COUNTRY MUSIC"
In 1927, the first country music recordings, featuring Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, took place in this tiny city, located at the crossroads of east Tennessee and southwestern Virginia. Today, Bristol is recognized by the U.S. Congress as the "Birthplace of Country Music," and the city pays tribute to its heritage with a mural and monument on downtown State Street. In Bristol, country turns 77 this year - retirement age to be sure - but is still going strong!
705 Elvis Presley Ave.
The former home of the famed Louisiana Hayride radio show - which introduced such stars as Elvis Presley and Hank Williams to audiences in the 1950s - still hosts a variety of concerts and live events - except, curiously enough, actual hayrides. Just another mystery of the bayou.
LORETTA LYNN'S RANCH, MUSEUM AND HOME
Hurricane Mills, Tenn.
Spend a day at Loretta's place! The plantation home and museum where scenes from the movie Coal Miner's Daughter were filmed contain Loretta's memorabilia and costumes. Tours take you through the house and even into a simulated coal mine. But watch out - a "cave-in" could bring the upstairs bathroom sink crashing down!
LEFTY FRIZZELL STATUE AND MUSEUM
Pioneer Village, Corsicana, Texas
Dedicated to the local boy who became a honky-tonk hero. Inside the museum are vintage photos, stage clothes and records. Handprints of Merle Haggard and other stars grace the sidewalk in front of the statue. And what time does the museum close? "Always Late." Get it? Oh, never mind.