20 Things you didn’t know about Jerry Salley

Referred to by Billboard Magazine as “One of Music Row’s greatest veteran tunesmiths,” Jerry Salley is a multi-award winning songwriter. Nominated in 2019 for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and for a GRAMMY for producing the multi-artist project Gonna Sing, Gonna Shout, Salley is the 2019 and 2018 IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Songwriter of the Year. He is a Dove award winner and was named the 2003 SESAC Country Music Songwriter of the Year. Salley has had over 500 different songs recorded with multiple hits in country, bluegrass, and Gospel music. His own latest album is Bridges and Backroads (Very Jerry Records).

1. Jerry claimed a $10 first prize in an elementary school talent contest for singing the Johnny Cash classic, I Still Miss Someone.

2. Jerry has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

3. While in college, Jerry was a regular performer on the WMNI Country Cavalcade, a Saturday night live radio show, broadcast from the historic Southern Hotel in downtown Columbus, Ohio. His memories from that show include the time a special guest, famous country songwriter Tommy Collins asked Jerry to please tune his guitar right before he went on stage, as Tommy had enjoyed a few too many adult beverages and couldn’t tune it himself. Tommy’s real name was Leonard Sipes, and Merle Haggard would immortalize him in his song, Leonard.

4. Jerry moved to Nashville in 1982 and became a cast member of the Country Music, USA show at the popular Opryland theme park. He spent five consecutive years performing at the park.

5. Exactly one week after the birth of his first child, Lindsay Jo in 1984, Jerry was invited by Porter Waggoner to make his debut on the Grand Ole Opry.

6. Jerry has performed on the Grand Ole Opry multiple times, including as a guest with the King of Country Music, Roy Acuff. Mr. Acuff signed several mementos for Jerry over the years

7. During his time at Opryland theme park, one of the characters Jerry portrayed was country comedian Rod Brasfield. Jerry would perform that role alongside several different female cast members who portrayed Minnie Pearl. The real Minnie Pearl, Sarah Cannon, personally spent time with Jerry, showing him TV clips of her and Brasfield performing together, and taught Jerry almost all of the Rod jokes he would tell from the theme park stage.

8. Legendary Hee Haw star and comedian, Archie Campbell, urged Jerry to consider a career as a comedian rather than a singer, saying, “Man, you’re funny!”

9. Due to a botched retinal reattachment surgery in 2003, Jerry is blind in his left eye.

10. Jerry and his wife, Erin, are avid hikers. They have spent the night at Mt. LeConte, which can only be reached on foot, and is one of the most popular spots in the Great Smoky Mountains.

11. Jerry loves to fish and has gained a reputation for his ability to deep fry his catch for gatherings with family and friends.

12. As a kid, Jerry’s family always planted big gardens, sometimes having two and three different large areas plowed up on their homeplace just outside Chillicothe, Ohio. That instilled a love of gardening in Jerry, and today he still enjoys planting – and especially eating – fresh homegrown vegetables. He is crazy about tomatoes, and although he gets much ribbing from his southern friends, he insists that the best tomato sandwich is on white bread with Miracle Whip. Yes, Miracle Whip! In addition, wife Erin has learned how to can and enjoys it as much as growing the food.

13. Jerry enjoys trips to Florida and has amassed an enormous shark’s tooth collection. Shark tooth hunting is one of his favorite hobbies.

14. Jerry performs his self-choreographed and much anticipated annual “Sparkler Dance” on the 4th of July for his grandkids’ enjoyment.

15. Jerry has been parasailing with youngest daughter, Maggie Kate.

16. In 1995, Jerry and dear friend Carl Jackson flew to New York City to rehearse and perform with the legendary Linda Ronstadt on The David Letterman Show, The Regis and Kathy Lee show, and The Today Show, to help promote her then-current album, Blue Train. Catch a young Jerry backing up Ronstadt below.

17. Jerry has ridden in a hot air balloon over Australia with songwriting friends Jim McBride and Rod McCormack, and has snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef with his wife, Erin.

18. Jerry was a presenter on the nationally televised Australian Country Music Awards show in 2009 – the first American to do so since Charlie Daniels several years earlier.

19. In 2011, Jerry was honored to hand deliver a letter from then Nashville mayor, Karl Dean, to Col. Murray, the mayor of Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia, inviting Tamworth to become one of Nashville’s Sister Cities. In 2013, Jerry later attended the ceremony at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame to witness the official signing of the Sister City relationship between Nashville and Tamworth.

20. The first time Jerry ever saw Ralph Stanley in concert was in 1967, soon after Larry Sparks joined the band after Carter passed away.

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Occasionally, articles published at Bluegrass Today involve work from multiple staff writers, which are marked as a Staff Report.