Celebrating Birthdays Today: Tom Petric, of the duo Petric, turns 27 (he and his brother, Jason, were the first act signed by Dallas Smith to his Steelhead Music record label); alt-country singer Justin Townes Earle, son of Steve Earle, turns 37; Saskatchewan singer Lisa Hewitt celebrates #46; singer Deana Carter turns 53 (she spent time in the Florida Everglades with her grandfather hunting deer and alligators); singer Patty Loveless turns 62 (when she was a young up-and-coming singer, Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner used to call her from a fast food restaurant and ask her to join them for a meal); singer Kathy Forester, of The Forester Sisters, turns 64; steel guitarist Jay Dee Maness, of The Desert Rose Band, turns 74; and late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s recording artist Don Adams turns 78.

Also Born on This Date: singer/songwriter Lorene Mann, the youngest of 10 kids, in 1937 (she wrote hit songs for Kitty Wells and Rex Allen, recorded duets with Justin Tubb and comedian Archie Campbell, and died in 2013).

Passages: 6 years ago today, pop singer/songwriter Sammy Johns died at the age of 66 (in addition to his solo hit, “Chevy Van” in 1973, he wrote country hits like “Common Man” for John Conlee, “America” for Waylon Jennings and “Desperado Love” for Conway Twitty); 8 years ago today, pop singer/songwriter Gerry Rafferty died at the age of 63 (his songs “Baker Street” and “Stuck in the Middle With You” have been covered by several country artists); 35 years ago today, Canadian country music pioneer and member of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame Orval Prophet (a second cousin of Ronnie Prophet) died at the age of 61 while shoveling snow at his home in Edwards, Ont.; and fiddler Clayton McMichen died on this date in 1970 at the age of 69.

On this date…in 2012, Garth Brooks was named the best-selling artist since Soundscan began tracking album sales in 1991 with a whopping 68.5-million albums sold, 5-million more than The Beatles!…in 1991, the IRS held the first of several auctions of Willie Nelson’s property to pay off $16.7-million in taxes and penalties…in 1969, George Jones and Dolly Parton joined the Grand Ole Opry…in 1954, Elvis Presley met Sam Phillips at Sun Records and recorded a demo of two songs, “Casual Love Affair” and “I’ll Never Stand in Your Way” (Sam got Presley’s address and phone number to contact him later about a formal recording session)…in 1953, 20,000 people attended the funeral of Hank Williams (a traffic jam prevented some of the pall-bearers from arriving on time and many had to listen to the service outside on loudspeakers)…in 1923, WBAP in Fort Worth, Tex., broadcast 90 minutes of square dance music. With requests for more, the radio station soon launched the WBAP Barn Dance, the first regular barn dance show in the U.S., nearly three years before the Grand Ole Opry.