Nashville journalist, historian and musician Peter Cooper died Tuesday night (Dec. 6) after sustaining a head injury over the weekend. He was 52.
Cooper, who also held the position of Senior Director, Producer & Writer at the Country Music Hall of Fame, has contributed much to the the recording of modern country music history.
For many years, Cooper served as a reporter for the Tennessean, covering a wide array of music and musicians. His work has appeared in Esquire, Oxford American, Mix and American Songwriter magazines. Cooper wrote liner notes for albums from Country Music Hall of Fame members Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Cowboy Jack Clement, Ronnie Milsap and Mac Wiseman—as well as the inscription on George Jones’ tombstone.
Cooper also wrote the book Johnny’s Cash and Charley’s Pride: Lasting Legends and Untold Adventures in Country Music, co-authored Bill Anderson’s Whisperin’ Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music, and wrote the preface to Tom T. Hall’s The Storyteller’s Nashville: A Gritty & Glorious Life in Country Music, among other projects.
Additionally, Cooper was a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and producer. He recorded three solo albums as well as three alongside singer-songwriter Eric Brace, and appeared on the Grand Ole Opry, A Prairie Home Companion, The Tonight Show and The Late Show with David Letterman. Cooper and Brace produced a reimagined version of I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2012. As a songwriter, Cooper’s work has been recorded by John Prine, Bobby Bare, Jim Lauderdale, and others.
A celebration of life for Cooper is expected to take place in early 2023.
Cooper is preceded in death by his mother, Pamela Cooper Smuzynski. He is survived by his son, Baker; ex-wife and partner of 32 years, Charlotte; father, Wiley Cooper; stepmother, Emily Cooper; brother, Chris Cooper; sister-in-law, Jessie Swigger; nephew and niece, Jack Cooper and Madeline Cooper; stepfather, Al Smuzynski.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to either the Baker Cooper fund to support Peter’s son’s education, or the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, supporting their cultural organization’s educational mission.
c/o Wells Fargo Bank, 1712 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
222 Rep. John Way S.
Nashville, TN 37203
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