"I can't deny I'd love to be in the Hall of Fame," Milsap says. "I'm never going to say I don't want to be there, because that's not true. Vince Gill's in, George Strait, there's all these people in there."
Milsap certainly has put together a Hall of Fame-caliber career, with 35 No. 1 hits on the Billboard country singles chart, from 1974's Pure Love to A Woman in Love, the 1980s' last country chart-topper.
Even when Milsap finally went country in the early 1970s, he couldn't stay there. Between 1977 and 1983, a half-dozen of his singles also hit the pop top 40, among them It Was Almost Like a Song,(There's) No Gettin' Over Me and Any Day Now, a remake of his Scepter labelmate Chuck Jackson's 1962 R&B smash.
"It's funny, crossovers are not well thought of," Milsap says. "That's a nasty word in the country music field. If you cross over to pop, you're not really country anymore. But I didn't find that to be true.
"I'll tell you why: I continued to follow country on the radio. All my life, I've followed it. There was a period of time when I was listening to so much Motown that I didn't think there was anything else. But then I was listening to the radio one night and I heard this guy named Merle Haggard. He came on and he brought country back to life for me. I thought, 'God, now there's a real country singer again.' "
Milsap believes his willingness to embrace a variety of styles throughout his career has helped define his musical legacy. "I'll show up with a country song, and somebody will say, 'That's not country,' " he says. "But it flies under the banner of being country."
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