Alliance Media Relations
"My Aunt Joanne said, 'You know they say you can't go home again, but me and Tommy are,'" Johnny's daughter Rosanne told The Boot, referring to her aunt and uncle (pictured above), who were also raised in the house. "If this were just about my dad and restoring the house it would be one thing, but it's really also establishing a heritage society and providing scholarships to Arkansas State University."
The home, located in Dyess, Ark., is nearing the end of its restoration. "When I saw the pictures yesterday I cried," admitted Rosanne, who added that she first visited the home place when she was 12. "I was not hopeful, truthfully, when I saw the state it was in when they bought it. I thought how are they going to do this? It was almost falling to the ground. Do we have enough photographs for them to replicate it accurately?"
Photos, paired with the memories of Johnny's sister, Joanne, were enough to make the transformation. "We have Aunt Joanne, who remembers where everything was and what everything looked like," the iconic singer's eldest child explains. "They've been searching for items and looking through historical books to get it absolutely accurate. They even sent a paint sample off to the lab to break it down to find out exactly what color it was. When I saw the pictures it was so exciting."
It was in that home that Joanne first learned of her famous brother's musical aspirations. While listening to a music show on the radio, he looked at her in the eye and said, "One day you are going to hear me singing on the radio." Years later, Johnny brought Joanne to one of his shows, where a young man named Elvis Presley was opening for him. "I stayed backstage and talked to Elvis, and Johnny got upset with me," she recalls. "He said 'I brought you over here to hear me sing,' and I told him, 'You're my brother, I can hear you anytime.'"
The show itself had a feeling of camaraderie and respect, and the audience loved it. A nearly sold-out house listened to Rosanne sing her hits including, "Seven Year Ache," and "I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me," along with standards from her album, The List, which included "Long Black Veil."
Willie opened with "Whiskey River" and ran the gamut of tunes from his repertoire, including a few standards such as, "Good Hearted Woman," and "Me and Paul."
"We're glad to be here tonight for my buddy John," he told the crowd before ending his set with "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die," a duet with Snoop Dogg and Kris Kristofferson from his latest album.
The Civil Wars wowed the crowd with their harmonies and the beauty of their music, which they called roots music of the future. In addition to their tunes, they sang one of Johnny's: "Delia's Gone."
Dierks came on stage alone, opening his show with the Bill Monroe classic, "The Old Crossroads." "To me, John stood at the crossroads every day and his decisions made him the man he became, which is one of the reasons that we all love him," he explained to the audience.
The band joined Dierks and they launched into his hit, "Up on the Ridge," followed by, "Lot of Leavin' Left to Do," and "Am I The Only One." He performed his recent smash, "Home," saying, "'Home' is probably the most powerful word in the English language, in light of the things that are happening with the economy these days, and the reason for being here tonight."
The evening closed with Rosanne, Dierks, the Civil Wars, Joanne and Tommy all onstage performing two of Johnny's tunes, "Pickin' Time" and "Big River." That performance brought the evening full circle to the reason people turned out to support the effort to restore Johnny, Tommy and Joanne's childhood home ... family and friends working together to help each other make things happen.