LifeNotes: Chips Moman, Hit Producer And Songwriter, Passes

Chips Moman

Chips Moman

Chips Moman, a songwriter and producer who made his mark in country music after a significant career in R&B, died Monday (June 13) in LaGrange, Georgia, after a long illness. He was 79.

Moman was born with the name Lincoln Wayne Moman in LaGrange, Georgia, on June 12, 1937. He received his nickname because of his skills as a poker player.

As a songwriter, his credits include 1977’s “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” for Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, co-written with Buddy Emmons.

With Emmons, Moman also wrote the two-week No. 1 single, “The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don’t Want to Get Over You,” recorded by Waylon Jennings. Prior to that, Moman and co-writer Larry Butler composed a two-week No. 1 country hit for B.J. Thomas titled “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.” The recording won a 1975 Grammy for Best Country Song.

R&B staples from his catalog include “Dark End of the Street” and “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” co-written with Dan Penn.

As a country producer, he won ACM Awards for Willie Nelson’s single “Always on My Mind” and corresponding album, also titled Always on My Mind. Nelson and Merle Haggard enlisted him to produce “Pancho & Lefty.” In addition, he collected a 1985 ACM Award as producer of “Highwayman,” the iconic single recorded by Johnny Cash, Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Nelson, known collectively as the Highwaymen. Moman also produced the first two albums for the Highwaymen.

He produced a collaborative 1986 album titled Class of ’55: Memphis Rock & Roll Homecoming that brought together Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins. Interviews from that session won a 1986 Grammy for Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Recording.

Elvis Presley fans know Moman as the producer of standards like “In the Ghetto,” “Suspicious Minds” and “Kentucky Rain.” Presley recorded those songs at American Sound Studio for the 1969 album, From Elvis in Memphis.

Moman had strong ties to Memphis by working at Stax Records and producing the label’s first hit single—Carla Thomas’ 1960 release, “Gee Whiz.” Within a few years, after leaving Stax, he opened American Sound Studio in Memphis, where Dusty Springfield recorded her enduring 1969 album, Dusty in Memphis. Moman was also an accomplished guitarist who played numerous sessions in Memphis and Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Only making occasional appearances in the last few decades, Moman had lived in LaGrange since 1994. In 2012 he gave a public interview at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Pictured (Back row, L-R): Museum Editor Michael Gray, Gene Chrisman, Bobby Emmons and Weldon Myrick; (Front row, L-R): Bobby Wood, Chips Moman and Reggie Young. Photo: Donn Jones

Chips Moman after a Country Music Hall of Fame program in 2012. Pictured (Back row, L-R): Museum Editor Michael Gray with musicians Gene Chrisman, Bobby Emmons and Weldon Myrick; (Front row, L-R): Musicians Bobby Wood, Chips Moman and Reggie Young. Photo: Donn Jones

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Craig Shelburne is the General Manager at MusicRow.

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