The night began with the oldies but goodies, as we call them now, of Little Jimmy Dickens, a 65 year veteran of country music.
Dickens sang his trademark songs of yesteryear to an enthusiastic crowd of country music fans gathered in the Carthage auditorium. Yet that was only the beginning of a night filled with nostalgic highlights and even a few surprises.
Singer, songwriter, actor Mac Davis was one of three new inductees into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. 2004 inductee J.P. Richardson, "The Big Bopper", who died in the 1959 plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly, was represented by his son, J.P. Richardson Jr. One of the big highlights of the evening and the biggest surprise came when the third inductee, "Urban cowboy" Johnny Lee received his hall of fame plaque, and was congratulated by phone by President Bush. Even with some of the best country music performers and fans around, this evening belonged to the Ritter family.
The evening was dedicated to the memory of John Ritter, who died last year during rehearsal of his ABC sitcom "Eight Simple Rules."
Although John found his star in television and movies, it was his dad Tex Ritter, a native of Carthage, who was the inspiration for the founding of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame Museum and one of its first inductees.
John's brother Tommy, his son Tyler, daughter Carly and their mother Nancy shared their memories of the John Ritter they knew.
"He was a man filled with more love and more joy and with the best sense of humor of anyone I've ever met and there's no one like him and he'll never be replaced," said Tommy Ritter. "I think because we all love him so much, the more people who share that love with us, it's just so lovely."