Johnny Slate Dies at Age 77

Johnny Slate.

Johnny Slate.

John Thomas Slate had a multifaceted music career in Nashville, making his mark as a songwriter, publisher, producer and manager for more than 40 years.

He passed away on Friday, July 24 at age 77, following a battle with cancer.

As a songwriter, Johnny Slate was known for such BMI award-winning songs as “Better Love Next Time” (Dr. Hook, 1979) and “Blaze of Glory” (Kenny Rogers, 1982), plus the Razzy Bailey hits “Friends” (1981), “I Keep Coming Back” (1981), “Loving Up a Storm” (1980) and “Tonight She’s Gonna Love Me (Like There Was No Tomorrow)” (1979).

He also cowrote the Joe Diffie hit “Next Thing Smokin’” (1992), The Younger Brothers’ “Nothing But the Radio On” (1982), Joe Sun’s “Shotgun Rider” (1980) and Eddy Arnold’s “Don’t Look Now (But We Just Fell in Love)” (1981).

The Razzy Bailey singles “What Time Do You Have to Be Back to Heaven” (1978), “I Ain’t Got No Business Doing Business Today” (1979) and “Everytime You Cross My Mind (You Break My Heart)” (1982) were also cowritten by Johnny Slate.

His songs were recorded by Johnny Cash, Ringo Starr, George Jones, Delbert McClinton, Tammy Wynette, Tom Jones, John Denver, Sammy Davis Jr., Exile, Loretta Lynn, Millie Jackson, Roger Miller and Charlie Rich, among others.

Slate was born in Clarksville, Tenn. After coming to Nashville, he wrote for Pamper, Green Grass, House of Gold and several other publishers before forming his own Out of Slate Music.

He was the professional manager at Tree International. He opened the Warner Bros. publishing office and served as its director. He and songwriter Larry Henley formed the Windchime and Sandstorm publishing companies, responsible for the 1978 Player pop hit “This Time I’m in it for Love.”

He created and became president of Affiliated Publishers Inc. (API) with Danny Morrison and Tony Harley. The company’s writers included Drew Womack, Joe Diffie, Kerry Kurt Phillips, Steve Pippin, Sonny LeMaire, Ken Spooner, Jerry Laseter and Wyatt Easterling. The company’s copyrights included Tim McGraw’s “I Like It, I Love It” (1995) and Diffie’s “Pickup Man” (1994).

As a producer, he created albums for Henley, Diffie, Sons of the Desert, Ron Williams and Fallenrock, among others.

As a manager, he opened a company called IMAGE Mgmt. He and his partners there managed Diffie, Tim McGraw, Ty Herndon, Sons of the Desert and several independent-label artists.

Johnny Slate was also an author. With his cowriter and cousin Danny Morrison, he published Song Writing From the Inside Out with Applewood Books.

He is survived by children Stacey, Stephen, Stephanie, Jenny and David, by 11 grandchildren, one great-grandchild and by sister Dorothy Holeman.

A memorial service for Johnny Slate will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, August 3 at Hendersonville First United Methodist Church. The family will receive friends from 2:00 p.m. until the time of the service and immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to MusiCares.


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Category: Artist, Featured, Obituary, Publishing

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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