Memorial Service Scheduled For Songwriter Don Pfrimmer

Don Pfrimmer - Mr. Mom #1 Party Jan 2005 (1)

[Updated: Jan. 14, 2016 at 10 a.m.]

A memorial service for songwriter Don Pfrimmer has been announced for Sunday, Jan. 31, at 5 p.m. at Richland Country Club in Nashville.

[Previous story: Dec. 8, 2015]

Award-winning songwriter Don Pfrimmer died last night, Dec. 7, after a battle with leukemia. He was 78 years old.

Pfrimmer was notable for the sustained length of his career. He began placing songs on the country charts in the mid-1970s and continued to do so for the next four decades. Among his successful copyrights are Tim McGraw’s “All I Want Is a Life,” Diamond Rio’s “Meet in the Middle,” Lonestar’s “My Front Porch Looking In” and Ronnie Milsap’s “She Keeps the Home Fires Burning.”

He has earned 14 ASCAP awards and was a 2015 nominee for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Pfrimmer worked with an impressively diverse group of collaborators over the years and was also noted for mentoring many young and beginning songwriters.

Donald Ross Pfrimmer was born Sept. 9, 1937, and grew up in the western Montana mountain town of Whitefish. He attended the University of Montana in 1962-1966, graduating with a B.A. majoring in English. He worked as a commercial fisherman and as a school teacher in Alaska before deciding to try his luck at songwriting in Nashville.

After moving to Music City in the summer of 1973, he had one of his first significant recordings when the Grand Ole Opry duo Lonzo & Oscar released his “Any Old Wind That Blows” as a 1974 single. Other early Pfrimmer songs were recorded by the Republic Records artists David Rogers, Leslie Barnhill, Ray Sanders and Kathy Barnes in 1976-78.

His cowritten “The Power of Positive Drinking” became Pfrimmer’s first Top 10 hit when it was sung by Mickey Gilley in 1978. Signing with Collins Court Music gave him access to artists produced by Tom Collins. This led to a string of hits in the early 1980s by Ronnie Milsap (1980’s “My Heart,” 1985’s “She Keeps the Home Fires Burning”), Sylvia (1981’s “Drifter,” 1981’s “The Matador,” 1982’s “I Never Quite Got Back,” 1984’s “Victims of Goodbye”), Barbara Mandrell (1984’s “Christmas at Our House”) and Steve Wariner (1981’s “By Now”).

Other big successes for the songwriter during the 1980s included 1983’s “You Put the Beat in My Heart” for Eddie Rabbitt, 1985’s “You Should Have Been Gone By Now” for Eddy Raven, 1986’s “You’re the Last Thing I Needed Tonight” for John Schneider and 1989’s “Love Will” for The Forester Sisters. During this decade, his songs were also recorded by Tanya Tucker, Jim & Jesse, Louise Mandrell, Don Williams, Lee Greenwood, Charlie Louvin, Keith Whitley, The Oak Ridge Boys, Lorrie Morgan and Porter Wagoner, among others.

Don Pfrimmer returned to the Top 10 on the country charts with Diamond Rio’s career-launching “Meet in the Middle” in 1991. “Come in Out of the Pain” (Doug Stone, 1992), “Love Without Mercy” (Lee Roy Parnell, 1993), “All I Want Is a Life” (Tim McGraw, 1996) and “She’s Sure Taking it Well” (Kevin Sharp, 1997) were other major Pfrimmer hits of the 1990s. Tammy Wynette, Michelle Wright, Billy Dean, George Jones, Rita Coolidge, Bryan White and Stephanie Bentley also recorded his tunes in that decade.

The veteran songwriter entered the new millennium by co-writing some of the biggest hits of his career. He began the decade promisingly with 2000’s “My Love Goes On and On” for Chris Cagle, then scored massive hits with the No. 1 Lonestar smashes “My Front Porch Looking In” (2003) and “Mr. Mom” (2004). He also co-wrote Lonestar’s 2005 hit “Class Reunion (That Used to Be Us).”

In 2010, he co-wrote songs for a unique album called Merry Ex-mas: Holiday Songs for the Divorced and Soon to Be. The tongue-in-cheek collection received a good deal of press attention. Encouraged by his wife Gail, Don Pfrimmer collaborated on its songs with longtime friends Mike Reid and Will Robinson.

He most recently wrote for Cosmic Mule Music in Nashville. In recent years, his songs have been recorded by Jo Dee Messina, Sarah Darling, Rascal Flatts, bluegrass favorites Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Kenny Rogers, Steve Holy, Neal McCoy, and more. During his long Nashville career, Don Pfrimmer wrote more than 450 songs.

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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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