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Chet Flippo, Respected Music Journalist, Passes

Chet Flippo, Respected Music Journalist, Passes

Chet Flippo, whose music subjects ranged from Hank Williams to the Rolling Stones, has died. For the past 12 years, he was the  music director of CMT in Nashville, reflecting his commitment to shining a light on country music.

I remember Flippo’s work with the Rolling Stones. For us Stones fans, Rolling Stone magazine was the bible before there was such a thing as the Internet. In the aftermath of Keith Richards getting busted in Toronto in 1977, Flippo was on the scene, tirelessly reporting the chaos. 

He eventually wrote a book about it, which was highly entertaining and revealing.

Music Row’s website reported the following:

“To anyone who cares about writing about popular music, he’s a huge figure and it’s a great loss,” says historian and friend Robert K. Oermann. “He wrote about music not just from a fan’s perspective, and not just from an industry perspective, but from an artistic perspective. Those people who can step outside and take a clear-eyed view are very rare and Chet had that ability until the end. With a very clear head and clear mind, he analyzed what was happening musically and culturally with this city and its most famous export.”

Flippo was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism led to a job as Contributing Editor for Rolling Stone while in graduate school at the University of Texas in Austin. During his tenure at the venerable magazine, his work boosted country music’s profile. “He was the one who brought country music culture into the pages of rock publications by profiling Waylon, Willie, Tanya and Dolly,” continues Oermann. “He was a real ground-breaker in so many ways, and all this while he was based in New York in the midst of a culture that had nothing to do with country music. But his Texas heritage served him well.”

To read the full story:

Flippo was promoted to Rolling Stone New York Bureau Chief in 1974. After the publication moved its offices from San Francisco to New York in 1977, he became Rolling Stone Senior Editor. He covered a wide range of artists and subjects including the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Joseph Heller, Tom Wolfe, and the Who. ”Chet Flippo is the man who took country music out of the country and sent it around the world through Rolling Stone magazine,” explains journalist and friend Hazel Smith. “He knew that country music was as good as any other kind of music and he represented it 100 percent.”

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