Parsons Joins Wetzel County Hall of Fame
Saturday night August 7, was a big night in New Martinsville as another Wetzel County great was added to the Wetzel County Hall of Fame at the Museum. It has been said that Wetzel County could have such a ceremony every week and never run out of great nominees. However, the same can’t be said for the music and arts division.
There have been many talented musicians and artists in the county, and will continue to be many more. Based solely on his credentials and talent, the Hall of fame committee felt Michael Parsons a native of Paden City was a clear choice to have his name added to the walls of the museum.
Michael passed away in late 2012, but left behind a music legacy that won’t soon be forgotten. Among those accomplishments was the recording of two CD’s all made from songs he personally wrote. He was a musician, song writer, (having wrote over 100 songs), and great stage performer.
He started playing music at the age of five, performing in local churches where he won his first talent contest at Temple Baptist Chuch in Paden City rewarding him with a free trip to church camp for a week. Michael continued his music venture taking up piano, and guitar while becoming more diverse in his music.
During the late 60’s and early 70’s he put together two rock and roll bands, before joining with longtime friend Steve Racer and forming the Shortliners. Together they played in local clubs and theaters, while also entertaining at fairs and festivals, weddings, anniversaries and funerals. In the late 1970’s Michael took his music to Nashville in hopes of full filling his dream of performing at the Grand Ole Opry. He soon made connections with some of the biggest names in show business, one including Glen Campbell who helped Mike get a gig at the famous Nashville Legends Saloon. Mike also performed as a backup musician at the Opry for the house band on a few occassions.
However, as fate over happens his Nashville career was cut short when he returned to West Virginia following the death of his mother in late 1991. With all intentions of returning to Nashville where he was on the verge of something big, circumstances kept him here where he finished out his remaining days.
Although he never got to full fill his dream of hitting the big stage, his music continued for the next 21 years here in West Virginia. He was seen on a few occassions at Wheelings Capital Music Hall and performed a Christmas special there in the late 1990’s. Some people are great musicians, but few are great musicians and performers, Michael was one of those!
Some recalled on Saturday night how he had a voice that once heard would be recognized from then on. His loud booming voice, could change in an instant to a soft mellow tone or a high pitched sound while always singing in tune and hitting every note with precision.
Michaels last known on stage performance was at the Paden City Labor Day celebration where he and longtime friend Steve Racer took the stage for an hour show. To close the show Michael performed in his famous all black outfit and bellowed out his rendition of the band America’s ‘Ventura Highway’.
Few knew at the time he was in great pain and hardly able to get through the night. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with untreatable cancer which took his life that same September.
Late on a Saturday night with a weak voice and painful body he sang his last song. “How Great Thou Art.” Michael who was nominated for the West Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013, was a clear choice for Wetzel County Hall of Fame in the Music and Arts Division on this day in 2021.