Don’t count Ronnie Milsap out just yet. Some have reported the Country Music Hall of Fame member is embarking on his last tour, but Milsap said his next move is still up in the air.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do next,” he said in an interview with the Sun Herald. “All of my friends are retiring, like Kenny Rogers — I love Kenny Rogers, and I hate that he’s retiring — but I don’t know that I’m ready to do that because this is what I love to do and I don’t know what else I would do.”
In the meantime, Milsap will be returning to Biloxi on Saturday for an 8 p.m. performance at the IP Casino Resort. He said he loves performing on the Coast.
“Oh Lord, yeah, I love playing down in Biloxi,” he said. “I try to get there at least once a year.”
Duets with friends
Milsap also is preparing an album of duets with some of his peers such as Willie Nelson and Leon Russell. The album will feature duets with some of today’s biggest country stars, such as Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan.
He said he is a fan of modern country music.
“I still listen to new country,” he said. “It seems like every so often somebody will say that the new country isn’t any good but every generation is doing their things and carving out a way for country music to live on and the rest of us can move on.”
Although Milsap said he is happy with the album project, there is, unfortunately, one country legend who will not be on the record — Merle Haggard, who died April 6.
“Losing Merle was a tremendous loss,” he said. “ I was trying to find the perfect song to record with him for the new record before he passed away.”
Playing four decades of hits
Milsap, who turned 73 in January, said he still plays about 100 shows a year and has no problem playing his hits such as “Smoky Mountain Rain” and “What a Difference You’ve Made in My life.”
“I never get tired about playing the songs people want to hear,” he said. “Songs are kind of like your children — you know when and where you recorded them, and you love them all but I take making records seriously — what you put on record stays there forever so you have to be careful with what you record.”
52 years of marriage
His first million seller, “It Was Almost Like a Song,” was not immediately popular with his wife of more than five decades, Joyce Milsap.
“I had a cassette of it that I kept listening to over and she hated it and said it was a terrible song,” he said. “One day, I was listening to a version I had recorded and my wife said, ‘What is that? I love that song.’ I said, ‘Really? That’s that song you said you hated.’ ”
After 52 years of marriage, he said he’s learned to trust Joyce’s instincts about his songs.
“She told me I should sing the high part on ‘Lost in the ’50s Tonight,’ so I went in the studio and did it,” he said. “The next day, I had to rent a Lear jet to fly to the next town. It cost me $10,000 to get there — that was a $10,000 high-C note.”
Where: IP Casino Resort at 850 Bayview Ave. in Biloxi
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: Start at $25 and a few are still available at Ticketmaster.com.