Music icon

Radio legend Karl Shannon remembers his friend and country music icon Naomi Judd

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – It’s a voice you recognize before you see its face.

“I met The Judds in the early ’80s after they had their first hit, ‘Mama He’s Crazy’. And both of us from Kentucky, we just struck up a friendship,” said Karl Shannon of Hank 105 ,5.

With nearly 50 years in radio, Karl Shannon has made many friends, from Waylon Jennings to Garth Brooks. But the bond he built with Naomi Judd was something different.

“I said I was really struggling. I told him, you know, my mother only has a few months to live. So she gave me this to give to my mother. And then she gave me this. Signed and all. But… yeah, she was really special to me,” Shannon said, showing the prayer book Judd had given her for the hard times.

It was behind the scenes of a telethon a decade after the two first met. Shannon confides in her friend that her mother is dying.

“I came back and there was this guardian angel night light. She said Ashely had one, Wynonna had one, one of her best friends had one and I want your mom to have the fourth.

Then a few months later, Judd noticed that Shannon was off the air for a week.

“She said your mother died, didn’t she?” I said, ‘Yeah.’ She said, ‘Well, I’m thinking of you and I love you.’ “Well, I love you too.” Then we went up to Louisville for Christmas. That’s where I come from. She called the station, left me a message. She said when you come back, make sure you pass by the station, I left you something. And she left me a Christmas present. There was a note that read, “I know your mom couldn’t get you anything this year, but I wanted to make sure you got something special.” And it was a Seiko Mickey Mouse watch.

Shannon said it’s clear Judd has always been a mother first.

“What you see is what you have. I don’t think there is anything wrong with Naomi Judd.

And a country music pioneer.

“There was a lot of rockabilly type stuff. But they just wanted it to stay real, to keep it natural and to keep it country.

That’s why Shannon said her music will live forever.

The Judds were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday night. Red carpet arrivals were canceled, but the ceremony continued.

The AP said Wynonna and Ashley Judd accepted the honor in tears. They stood close together and recited a Bible verse together.

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