What was the best year for country music…Ever? That’s a tough question but in my opinion it would have to be 1986. The 1990’s saw some incredible years and some great country music and Outlaw Country helped the 70’s to explode with some new stars and 1975 specifically was incredible. Here’s why I think 1986 was the best year for country music…Ever! That year there were 52 different #1 hits on the American Country Billboard Chart meaning there was a new number one hit every single week. That’s a testament to the incredible competition because the songs were certainly worthy of spending more than one week at the top. Just take a look at a few of the songs that spent time at #1 and I think you’ll agree.
Dan Seals - Bop
Dolly Parton - Think About Love
Reba McEntire - Whoever’s In New England
Randy Travis - Diggin’ Up Bones
George Strait - Nobody In His Right Mind
1986 saw the country charts both in the United States and Canada filled with a mixture of “Classic” artists, new artists and, Performers hitting their Prime
Artists like Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson, Don Williams, Tanya Tucker, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Ronnie Milsap were still having lots of success. They’d been around country music for a few years but their music was still making an impact. In Canada Ian Tyson introduced us to his signature hit Navajo Rug.
Meanwhile Performers like George Strait, Steve Wariner, Earl Thomas Conley, Dan Seals, Reba McEntire and Alabama were all in their prime. The Judds had multiple hits with songs like Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Old Days) and Rockin’ With The Rythem of The Rain. Ricky Skaggs who had tremendous success in the early 80’s was on top of his game but he was also about to watch his buddy Keith Whitley become a star.
A new crop of artists emerged that would have a lasting impact in Country Music. Randy Travis who has received the most praise for helping to bring country back to its more traditional roots was at the top of the list. Keith Whitley who had struggled to be noticed climbed his way onto the American Country Billbaord Chart with Miami, My Amy. And in March of 1986 we were introduce to Dwight Yoakam and Steve Earle who both released their debut albums. All would go on to become country music icons!
Had country music not slammed the door in Johnny Cash’s face, 1986 might have been the perfect year for Country music. As it was ’86 definitely helped set the stage for Garth Brooks and the rise of country music in the 90’s. Was it the best year ever in country music?