LifeNotes: Hit Writer And Singer Troy Shondell Passes

Troy Shondell

Troy Shondell

Pop-country performer and former Music Row song publisher Troy Shondell has died at age 76.

Best known for his 1961 torchy teen ballad “This Time (We’re Really Breaking Up),” Shondell passed away on Jan. 7 at a nursing facility in Picayune, Mississippi. The Associated Press reports that he died of complications related to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The singer was born Gary Wayne Schelton and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His father was a professional musician. Shondell was playing trumpet by age 4 and eventually became proficient on piano, organ and saxophone, as well.

He began writing songs at age 14. One of his early tunes, “A Prayer and a Juke Box” was a pop single by Little Anthony & The Imperials in 1959. At his peak, Troy Shondell was said to have written 400 songs a year.

His recording career began in 1958 with “My Hero,” released as by “Gary Shelton.” Singles such as “The Trance” and “Goodbye Little Darlin’” ensued under his better-known billing. He had a regional hit in the Midwest with the rockabilly tune “Kissin’ at the Drive-In” in 1960.

Written by Chips Moman, “This Time (We’re Really Breaking Up)” was a 1961 hit in both the U.S. and the U.K. and sold a million copies.

Shondell’s follow-up pop singles in 1961-62 included “Tears From an Angel,” written by Jackie DeShannon, his self-penned “Island in the Sky” and the Phil Spector-produced “Na-Ne-No.” His final pop single of note was 1969’s “Let’s Go All the Way.”

Shondell wrote “Still Loving You” in the wake of his father’s premature 1960 death from a heart attack. The song was recorded by country star Bob Luman and became a Top 10 country hit in 1973, earning Troy Shondell a BMI Award.

By then, the singer-songwriter had moved to Nashville and switched to country music. He signed with Acuff-Rose, then formed his own song publishing company. His debut Nashville single was 1969’s “Something’s Wrong in Indiana.” Also in 1969, he was hired as an assistant regional director in the Nashville office of ASCAP.

Returning to recording, he released the self-produced LP An Ordinary Man in 1978. Shondell made the country charts with his own version of “Still Loving You” (1979), plus John Sebastian’s “(Sittin’ Here) Lovin’ You” (1980) and his own “(I’m Looking For Some) New Blue Jeans” (1988).

In 1992, his song “The Wall” was chosen to represent the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. and was featured on Good Morning America.

In recent years, Troy Shondell had toured on the oldies circuit. In 2001, he formed a nostalgia package show with his peers Jimmy Clanton, Ronnie Dove and Ray Peterson, billed as The Masters of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

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About the Author

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

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