Two men who often felt like outsiders in Nashville, even as they took country music to new heights, were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday (May 24).

Ferlin Husky and Billy Sherrill were responsible for dozens of No. 1 hits and helped bring the genre to larger audiences over a period of decades that served as country music's formative years.

Yet the 84-year-old Husky waited decades to become a member of the Hall, and the survivor of nine heart bypass surgeries thought he'd die before he would make it.

"I want to thank everybody who had anything to do with bringing me into this group, the people I've admired since I was a little child," an emotional Husky said in a short acceptance speech.

Sherrill, now 73, was often criticized even as he created some of music's most endearing moments, regardless of genre.

He turned Tammy Wynette and Tanya Tucker into stars and, taking his cues from Chet Atkins, Owen Bradley and even Phil Spector, pushed country music into territory once reserved only for pop music. He even put a saxophone on a George Jones record.

"The thing is Billy just loved the sound of violins on a love song," said Kyle Young, director of the Hall of Fame. "He changed Nashville's production style, became a controversial genius and created immortal country music."

Husky helped bring country music to millions of new fans with a series of No. 1 hits in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, including "Gone" and "Wings of a Dove." He parlayed that success into work in film and television and was one of the first country artists to get his name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

He was a variety show regular, and had 51 singles on the Billboard country music charts and sold 20 million records in his career.

"In the mid-50s Ferlin would create the template for the famed Nashville Sound, a sound that gave rock 'n' roll a run for its money and forever put Music City on the map," Young said. "The multitalented and musically versatile Ferlin Husky was always ahead of his time."

It was the shy Sherrill's ability to write, produce, play and record material for the singers he worked with that put him on Nashville's bad side. Songwriters particularly claimed he was cutting them out, but it's hard to argue with the results.

Sherrill had a vision for his performers and if the songs submitted didn't fit, he supplied his own.

Wynette became his greatest creation. The pair put 39 songs on the country music charts, including the iconic "Stand By Your Man" and 19 other No. 1 hits.

Jones objected to recording "He Stopped Loving Her Today," but eventually relented and scored another No. 1 for a song that eventually became the Country Music Association's song of the year in 1980. And don't forget Johnny Paycheck's "Take This Job And Shove It," another song that wasn't just popular but infected American culture. He touched the careers of dozens of singers, including Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash and even Elvis Presley.

"You have created the soundtrack of our lives with the records you made," Ronnie Milsap said before singing "The Most Beautiful Girl." "How many people have copied all the things you used to do. I did it. And I'm going to keep on doing it."

Sherrill eventually got his due from Nashville insiders and in 1999 was named BMI's songwriter of the decade. He seemed surprised by the news he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier this year, and was characteristically low key after being called to the stage, where he thanked Sam Phillips and Clive Davis, among others.

"You've got to have a lot of help to get here and I had it," Sherrill said. "There's not a hell of a lot else to say."

Two other inductees, Jimmy Dean and Don Williams, will be enshrined in October.