Beasley Media Group Founder George Beasley Passes

George Beasley was inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame in 2020.

Beasley Media Group Company Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board George G. Beasley passed away on Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in Naples, Florida. He was 89 years old.

Born on April 9, 1932, Beasley grew up working in the tobacco fields in his hometown of Ararat, Virginia. He enlisted in the Army, graduated from Appalachian State University, and moved to North Carolina in the late 1950s to become a high school principal and coach.

He built his first radio station (WPYB-AM) in Benson, North Carolina in December 1961. Over the next 60 years, his hard work and vision paved the way for what Beasley Media Group has become today – one of America’s premiere publicly traded media companies, consisting of 62 radio properties located in 15 large and medium-sized markets. Beasley stepped back from his role as Chief Executive Officer in 2016, but continued to serve as Executive Chairman of the Company’s Board of Directors.

An avid philanthropist, he served on the board of the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters (NCAB), and received numerous awards and accolades throughout his life. In 2020, he was inducted into the Country Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame and received the Broadcasters Foundation of America Lifetime Achievement Award.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years Ann, five children, 16 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

While best known for his many trailblazing achievements in the radio broadcasting industry, he will also be remembered for his kindness, integrity and work-ethic.

“George’s unconditional love for our mother, Ann and our family, along with his passion for the radio industry, helped to guide him throughout his lifetime,” said Beasley Media Group Chief Executive Officer Caroline Beasley. “A loving father, mentor, and friend, I will especially miss his incredible wisdom, keen insight and gentle smile.”

A memorial service will take place for family and friends in Naples, Florida. Details will be forthcoming. A private burial service will be held for the family in Ararat, Virginia. In lieu of flowers, the Beasley family requests donations be made in his name to The Broadcasters Foundation of America, 125 West 55th Street, 4th Floor New York, New York 10019. Online donations may also be made at www.broadcastersfoundation.org.

B.J. Thomas Dead At 78

B.J. Thomas

Five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, B.J. Thomas, died May 29 at home in Arlington, Texas from complications due to stage four lung cancer. He was 78.

Thomas’ expansive career crossed multiple genres, including country, pop, and gospel, earning him CMA, Dove, and Grammy awards and nominations since his emergence in the 1960s.

His career was anchored by numerous enduring hits, among them his million-selling cover of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” the Grammy-winning “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” and the iconic “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” which won the Academy Award for best original song. A five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, Thomas has sold over 70 million albums worldwide, scoring eight No. 1 hits and 26 Top 10 singles over his 50+ years in the music industry. His lengthy chart history led to him being named one of Billboard’s Top 50 Most Played Artists Over The Past 50 Years. Such memorable hits as “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love,” “New Looks From An Old Lover” and “Hooked on a Feeling” have made him a staple on multiple radio formats over the years.

He was born Billy Joe Thomas in rural Hugo, Oklahoma, before he moved to Houston, Texas with his family. He began singing in church as a child and in his teens joined the Houston-based band the Triumphs.

Thomas’s first taste of success came in 1966 when he recorded “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” with producer Huey P. Meaux. Released by Scepter Records, it peaked at No. 8 on the pop charts and became his first million-selling single. He released the follow-up single, “Mama,” and delivered his first solo album that same year.

Thomas’ second million-selling hit came in 1968 with the release of “Hooked on a Feeling” from On My Way, his sophomore album for Scepter. During his days with the New York label, he became friendly with Ronnie Milsap and Dionne Warwick, who were also on the roster at the time. It was Warwick who introduced him to songwriter-producer Burt Bacharach. In January 1970, Thomas topped the charts with “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.” Penned by Bacharach and Hal David, the song was featured in the classic Paul Newman/Robert Redford film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, earning the Oscar for best original song. Sales quickly exceeded two million copies and it has remained one of the most enduring pop hits of all time, reoccurring in such films as Forrest Gump, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Clerks II, and Spider-Man 2 as well as multiple TV shows over the years. He followed that career-defining single with a string of pop/rock hits, including “Everybody’s Out of Town,” “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “No Love at All” and “Rock and Roll Lullaby.”

After six years with Scepter Records, Thomas signed with Paramount Records where he released two albums—1973’s Songs and 1974’s Longhorns & Londonbridges. In 1975, Thomas released the album Reunion on ABC Records, featuring “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” which holds the distinction of being the longest titled No. 1 hit ever on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Like many successful pop/rock artists, Thomas fell into drugs and battled substance abuse. His wife Gloria became a born-again Christian and the turning point in Thomas’ life came when he became a believer in 1976. He immediately quit drugs and found an avenue for expressing his faith in gospel music. Thomas signed with Myrrh Records and released the album Home Where I Belong in 1976. Produced by Chris Christian, the project won Thomas a Grammy and became the first of two Dove Award wins. The album became the first gospel record to sell a million copies. The warmth and emotional timbre of Thomas’ voice was well suited to the genre and he became one of gospel music’s most successful artists. His rendition of “Amazing Grace” is considered one of the most poignant of the classic hymn’s many covers.

In addition to his country and gospel success, Thomas also enjoyed a healthy run on the country charts in the 1980s with such hits as “Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love,” “New Looks from an Old Lover Again,” “The Whole World’s in Love When You’re Lonely” and “Two Car Garage.” “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” was No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot Country Songs charts. It won the Grammy for Best Country Song in 1976 and was nominated for CMA Single of the Year. On his 39th birthday in 1981, Thomas became the 60th member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Beyond populating multiple radio formats with so many beloved hits, Thomas also voiced the theme song, “As Long As We’ve Got Each Other,” for the popular TV series Growing Pains, and has lent his voice to numerous commercials, including campaigns for Coca-Cola and Pepsi. He can also be seen on television hosting Time Life Music’s Forever 70s infomercial. As an actor, he also appeared in the films Jory and Jake’s Corner. Thomas authored two books, including his autobiography Home Where I Belong.

In 2013, he released The Living Room Sessions, an acoustic album, which celebrated Thomas’ nearly six decades in the music industry. The project featured Thomas dueting with other high profile artists on his most beloved hits, which included teaming with Richard Marx for “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” Vince Gill on “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” Sara Niemietz on “Hooked on a Feeling,” Keb’ Mo’ on “Most of All,” Lyle Lovett on “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” and The Fray’s Isaac Slade on “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” The album was well-received with critics praising it as a reminder of just how engaging his voice remained after decades of recording and touring.

Though Thomas will be remembered as one of this generation’s premiere vocalists and a consummate entertainer, the humble artist was most proud of his family. He’s survived by his wife of 53 years Gloria, their three daughters Paige Thomas, Nora Cloud, and Erin Moore, and four grandchildren, Nadia Cloud, Keira Cloud, Ruby Moore, and Billy Joe Moore.

A quote from his website exemplifies Thomas’ humble attitude and appreciation for life. “All I am is just another guy. I’ve been very lucky,” he shared. “I’ve had a wonderful life, I’ve been a husband and a father who cherishes his children and now I’m a grandfather, and I’m motivated like all these teachers and preachers and mothers and fathers to help my kids grow up with character and self-respect. I hope that doesn’t sound too grandiose, but that’s what it comes down to. It’s what I’ve tried to do with my music and with the majority of my life.”

Funeral arrangements are forthcoming and will remain private. In lieu of flowers, in-memoriam donations will be accepted by Mission ArlingtonTarrant Area Food Bank, and the SPCA of Texas.

Veteran Songwriter Glenn Douglas Tubb Passes

Glenn Douglas Tubb. Photo: Courtesy Lyn Stevens

Hit country songwriter Glenn Douglas Tubb died in Nashville on Saturday (May 22) at age 85.

Tubb was active for seven decades on the Nashville music scene, co-writing hits for Johnny Cash, George Jones & Tammy Wynette, Webb Pierce and The Wilburn Brothers, among others. His classic “Skip a Rope” is the current single by Marty Stuart.

“Two Story House” was a hit duet for George Jones & Tammy Wynette in 1980. Tubb co-wrote
it with Wynette and David Lindsey. The songwriter was also a recording artist.

Born in San Antonio, Texas, Glenn Douglas Tubb was the nephew of Country Music Hall of Fame member Ernest Tubb (1914- 1984) and the cousin of Grand Ole Opry star Justin Tubb (1935-1998).

His first big songwriting success was 1957’s “Home of the Blues,” co-written with Vic McAlpin and sung by Johnny Cash. In 1959, Ernest Tubb had a hit with his nephew’s song “Next Time.”

Webb Pierce scored a top-10 hit with Glenn Douglas Tubb’s “Sweet Lips” (1961). The Wilburn Brothers did the same with “Tell Her So” (1963).

In 1967, Tubb and Jack Moran co-wrote the social-commentary song “Skip a Rope.” It became a No. 1 country smash for Henson Cargill the following year and crossed over to become a pop hit as well. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1969.

“Skip a Rope” has since been recorded by dozens of others, including Jimmy Dean, B.J. Thomas, Conway Twitty, Autry Inman, Lynn Anderson, The Harden Trio, Gene Vincent, George Jones, Joe Tex, Patti Page, Jack Reno, Rex Allen, Lawrence Reynolds, The Jordanaires, Bobby Bare, The Brothers Four and The Kentucky HeadHunters.

Cash returned to Tubb’s song catalog to record the gospel tune “I Talk to Jesus Every Day” in 1971.

The songwriter’s own recording career included stints with the Dot, Decca, Mercury and MGM labels, sometimes billed as “Glenn Douglas” or “Doug Tubb.” His 1958 LP was titled Heartbreak Alley. Later albums included New Country Psalms, Half and Half, Glenn Douglas, Let Me Cry Alone, Gonna Make My Mark and Aged to Perfection. He appeared on the Opry and on The Ozark Jubilee network TV series.

Tubb toured with Cash, Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Marty Robbins and others. He continued to write and perform until the time of his death, frequently appearing as the host of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree at the Texas Troubadour Theater near the Opryland Hotel & Resort.

He also sang duets with his wife, Dottie Snow, the daughter of Grand Ole Opry stars Radio Dot & Smokey Swann. The two are ministers. Their weekly service called “The Kitchen Tabernacle” was posted on Facebook Live and Periscope each Sunday afternoon.

Joe Rucker, Jimmy Payne, Glenn Douglas Tubb and his wife Dottie Snow Tubb. Photo: Courtesy Lyn Stevens

Glenn Douglas Tubb’s songs were recorded by Dwight Yoakam, The Collins Kids, Kitty Wells, Charlie Louvin, Hank Williams Jr., Sonny James, Jan Howard, Charley Pride, Bob Dylan, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Nat Stuckey, Gene Watson, Jack Barlowe, Billy Walker, Anne Murray and many more.

At the time of his death, the songwriter was working on a documentary film about his life.

Glenn Douglas Tubb arrangements are being handled by Roesch-Patton Funeral Home & Woodlawn Memorial Park. No services will be held at this time.

Songwriting Great Dewayne Blackwell Passes

Dewayne Blackwell

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Dewayne Blackwell passed away on Sunday (May 23) at age 84.

Blackwell was noted in Nashville for such hits as “Friends in Low Places,” “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home,” “Honkytonk Man” and other country hits. He began his career in pop music as the writer of the classic “Mr. Blue.”

Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, Dewayne Blackwell migrated with his family to California when he was a boy. His parents were Dust Bowl “Okies.” He was one of eight children who labored alongside them as an itinerant crop picker. The family lived in shanty towns with Latino agricultural workers, which sparked Blackwell’s lifelong interest in Mexico.

His father was a fiddler and guitarist who played for square dances. Blackwell and his younger brother began playing in California bars when he was 14.

After dropping out of high school, Dewayne Blackwell moved to Alaska, where he worked as a stevedore and longshoreman. This is when he began writing songs.

Back in California, he performed and recorded with his family trio The Blackwells in 1958-61. The group’s final single was produced by the legendary Phil Spector. The Blackwells folded when brother Ron Blackwell died in a motorcycle accident. (Ron had posthumous success as the writer of “Lil’ Red Riding Hood,” a 1966 smash for Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs).

Dewayne Blackwell’s first songwriting success occurred when the teen-idol pop trio The Fleetwoods recorded his “Mr. Blue” in 1959. It became a million-selling No. 1 smash that was later recorded by such artists as Bobby Vee, Johnny Crawford, Bobby Vinton, Pat Boone, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Garth Brooks and Bob Dylan.

The Fleetwoods also recorded the songwriter’s “The Last One to Know” (1960). His other pop successes during this early phase of his career included British star Billy Fury’s “Love Or Money” (1961), The Everly Brothers’ “The Ferris Wheel” (1964), Bobby Vee’s “Hickory, Dick and Dock” (1964) and Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs’ “Oh That’s Bad No That’s Good” (1967). His songs were also recorded by Roy Orbison, The Four Preps, Peggy March, Little Richard, The Ventures and other ‘60s pop artists.

Dewayne Blackwell’s first charting country song was 1970’s “Mama Come’n Get Your Baby Boy,” recorded by Johnny Darrell. In 1974, he recorded as a solo artist. But Blackwell’s country songwriting career did not achieve real notoriety until the following decade.

Sometimes co-writing with Larry Bastian, Earl Bud Lee and a few others, he had a solid string of country successes between 1982 and 1992. These included the No. 1 David Frizzell hit “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino” (1982), which was nominated for a songwriting Grammy Award. Other top-10 tunes included “Honkytonk Man” (1982) by Marty Robbins (the title song of a Clint Eastwood movie) and “Saturday Night Special” (1988) by Conway Twitty.

In 1990, Garth Brooks scored the biggest hit of his career with Blackwell and Lee’s “Friends in Low Places.” It was named Single of the Year by both the CMA and the ACM, was nominated for a Grammy and was crowned ASCAP’s Country Song of the Year in 1991.

Other notable Dewayne Blackwell country songs include “Cowboy in a Three-Piece Business Suit” (Rex Allen Jr., 1982), “Turn the Pencil Over” (Porter Wagoner, 1982), “Tulsa Ballroom” (Dottie West, 1983), “A Million Light Beers Ago (David Frizzell, 1983), “Make My Day” (T.G. Sheppard & Clint Eastwood, 1984), “Still Pickin’ Up After You” (The Kendalls, 1987), “When Karen Comes Around” (Mason Dixon, 1988), “Nobody Gets Off in This Town” (Garth Brooks, 1989) and “Yard Sale” (Sammy Kershaw, 1992).

His songs were also recorded by Mark Chestnut, Moe Bandy, The Oak Ridge Boys, Joe Stampley, Merle Haggard, Shelly West, Reba McEntire, Confederate Railroad, Daryle Singletary, Michael Peterson and Floyd Cramer, among others.

In 2003, the songwriter retired to Ajijic, a town on the shores of Lake Chapala in central Mexico. The following year, he opened his restaurant Senor Azul (Mr. Blue) there.

Dewayne Blackwell was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2017. His death was confirmed by Wikipedia yesterday.

Music Industry Trailblazer Lou Robin Dies At 90

Lou Robin

Beloved music industry veteran Lou Robin died May 18, 2021 at the age of 90.

Born Louis Bernard Robin on May 29, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois, he attended the University of Chicago Elementary and High School before his family moved to Los Angeles during his teenage years. While working towards degrees in economics and accounting at Claremont Men’s College in California, Robin began negotiating and arranging performers like Duke Ellington and Count Basie to come play concerts on his campus. From this, a career was born.

In 1957, with help from his college friend Allen Tinkley, Robin founded Concerts, Inc. which would later become Artist Consultants Productions. Under Lou’s direction, the company produced or promoted over 4,000 concerts worldwide during a 52 year period. The company also produced feature films, theatre in the round, an off-Broadway show in New York with Monty Python, and promoted more than two dozen summer series concerts at The Hollywood Bowl featuring such artists as Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr., Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. Lou also did shows with Chicago, Queen, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles.

In 1969, Artist Consultants began their longest running and most important relationship, promoting concerts with The Johnny Cash Show. In 1973, Robin began a 30-year run personally managing Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash until their passing in 2003. He continued to supervise the business affairs of the Cash estate, dealing with record companies and music licensing, until he retired at the age of 88.

A tribute to Robin was posted on Cash’s website, saying: “It is with deep sadness and respect that we mark the passing of music industry legend, Lou Robin, at 90. Lou had an amazing 30-year run personally managing Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash from 1973 until their passing in 2003. The friendship and relationships he and his wife, Karen Wilder Robin, had with the whole Cash family were cherished. Our thoughts are with his sons, Michael and Steve Robin, and their families.”

Robin had been a member of the International Entertainment Buyers Association since its inception, and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2011. He was a long time resident of Pacific Palisades and most recently of Thousand Oaks, California where he resided with his wife Karen until her passing in 2019. Robin is survived by his sons Michael and Steve Robin, their wives Amy and Jenjer, and his granddaughters Mackenzie & Skylar and Karleigh & Savannah.

Country Music Industry Stalwart Patsy Bruce Passes

Patsy Bruce. Photo: Bev Moser

Businesswoman, songwriter and artist manager Patsy Bruce died on Sunday, May 16. She was 81.

Patsy’s impressive resume spanned industries, skill sets and states as she found success in the entertainment industry, event planning, tourism, journalism, activism and politics.

Born Patsy Ann Smithson in Brownsville, Tennessee to a military family. She married the late Ed Bruce, who was working as a car salesman and trying to break into music at the time. They met in 1964, married shortly after in Memphis, and moved to Nashville in 1966. The two had three children together before separating in 1986.

During their marriage, Patsy worked as Ed’s manager, during which time he became known as a singer, songwriter and actor. She was also a casting director, and worked on the TV show Maverick and the movie Urban Cowboy.

She is credited as a songwriter, along with Ed, on Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings’ iconic duet, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.” She also collaborated with Ed on his songs “Texas (When I Die),” “Girls, Women and Ladies,” “(When You Fall in Love) Everything’s a Waltz,” “Ever, Never Lovin’ You,” and “After All.”

Patsy briefly served as president of the Nashville Songwriters Association International in the late 1970s and early ’80s, and she and Ed ran the Ed Bruce Talent Agency and their publishing companies during that period.

Patsy worked in event planning in the ’80s and ’90s, after her divorce. As owner of Events Unlimited, she converted the Super Dome into a one-third replica of the famed French Quarter for a $9 million Honda event with a team of 1,300 people. This success helped her win Events magazine’s Gala Award, the event industry’s top award. She also launched Patsy Bruce Productions Inc., a film and television production company.

She also became a political activist and community leader, working with Phil Bredesen’s campaign for Tennessee governor. After the election, Bredesen appointed Patsy to the Tennessee State Board of Probation and Parole, where she served for 10 years in the early 2000s. She also became involved in Bredesen’s wife Andrea Conte’s non-profit, You Have the Power, which provides support for victims of crimes.

In 2017 Patsy launched Songbird Tours, a songwriting-focused tour company in Nashville, with her son and songwriter Trey Bruce.

Patsy is survived by her devoted partner Jim Trout, son Trey Bruce (Laci); daughters Ginny Bruce and AnnMarie Bruce Pinhal (Joey); grandchildren Sara Bruce Manual (Greg), Maggie Bruce Emmick (Cory), Sela Bruce, Railee Bruce, Patrick Elder, Chelsea Jensen, Joseph Pinhal (Katie), Cathrine Pinhal and Juliana Pinhal; and great-grandchildren Eisley, Elynn, Lilah, Cason, Addison, Bentley, Bella and Cade; and her personal angel on the ground and caregiver, Meaghan Stack. She is preceded in death by her son, Beau Bruce, who died in 2019, and her parents, Henry and Hazel Smithson.

Memorial service details have not yet been announced.

MTM Music Group Co-Founder, Tommy West, Dies At 78

Tommy West. Photo: Bob Monkton, Courtesy PKM

Music producer, songwriter, and recording artist Tommy West died on Sunday, May 2, 2021, from complications associated with Parkinson’s disease. He was 78.

West is best known for co-producing three Gold-selling albums for his close friend Jim Croce with longtime music and business partner Terry Cashman (Dennis Minogue). Together, they also produced recordings by Dion DiMucci; Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary; and Henry Gross. As songwriters, he and Cashman wrote many songs for The Partridge Family, and as a solo producer, West recorded songs by country artists Ed Bruce, Gail Davies, Judy Rodman, Holly Dunn, and Girls Next Door.

Tommy West was born Thomas Ralph Picardo, Jr. on August 17, 1942, in Jersey City, New Jersey. His musical career began in 1958 when he co-founded the doo-wop group, The Criterions, with childhood friend and future Manhattan Transfer founder, Tim Hauser. After graduating from Villanova University in 1963, West served in the National Guard, later becoming a radio personality and music director at Long Branch, New Jersey’s WRLB-FM.

He later moved to ABC’s Command Records in New York City, working in promotion. While at the label, West became a first call session singer, recording background vocals for artists such as Frank Sinatra, Mitch Ryder, Sammy Davis Jr., Perry Como, Connie Francis, and others. During this time, West also befriended and wrote songs with the label’s head of music publishing, Terry Cashman, and songwriter Gene Pistilli, eventually forming the folk-pop group Cashman, Pistilli & West.

In 1968, the trio moved to Capitol Records, releasing their self-titled album produced by Nik Venet. However, with the departure of Pisitilli, West and Cashman went on to produce projects for Maury Muehleisen, Mary Travers, Jim Dawson, and many others. As songwriters, the duo’s material was recorded by many artists including Cass Elliot, The Manhattan Transfer, Al Martino, Mouth & MacNeal, and more.

West co-founded the Nashville-based MTM Music Group, the record label and publishing company division of actress Mary Tyler Moore’s California-based organization. The MTM label featured mostly West-produced albums and songs, including those by Judy Rodman, Holly Dunn, Almost Brothers, The Voltage Brothers and Girls Next Door. Following MTM, West created his High Harmony Records label, for which he produced Robert Bonfiglio’s Through The Raindrops album, and additional projects for Time-Life and PBS.

Tommy West is survived by his wife Ann Verner Picardo, sister Ann Marie, brother Rick, daughter Cheyenne, stepsons Bradley and Blair Robinson, and three grandchildren, Lila, Amelia and Haley Robinson.

Private services will be held in the near future. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Bakersfield-To-Nashville Musician Dennis Payne Passes

A memorial service for Dennis Payne is scheduled for Wednesday evening (April 28) at the Texas Troubadour Theater.

The songwriter, sideman, studio engineer and recording artist died at age 71 on April 8 in Nashville.

His songwriting catalog includes the Junior Brown hit “Highway Patrol” (1995) as well as Vern Gosdin’s “All I Want and Need Forever” (1979). As a lead-guitarist sideman, Payne backed Earl Thomas Conley, David Frizzell, Jimmy Dickens, Cal Smith, Tommy Overstreet and many others. He was a member of the bands Eagle Creek, The Bakersfield Boys and Cigars & Cataracts.

A native of Bakersfield, California, Dennis Bruce Payne was the son of Charles Payne, a member of the western-swing band The Light Crust Doughboys. His uncle was Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Leon Payne, famed for the country standards “I Love You Because,” “Lost Highway,” “They’ll Never Take Her Love From Me,” “Take Me,” “Blue Side of Lonesome,” “You Are the One” and “You’ve Still Got a Place in My Heart,” among others.

Dennis Payne began his career in Bakersfield as a teenager. He was on the local TV shows of Dave Stogner and Bill Woods, was managed by Buck Owens and became a protégée of Red Simpson. Payne and Simpson co-wrote “Truck Drivin’ Fool,” “The City Police,” “I Know Me Too Well” and other songs.

Their song “Highway Patrol” became a Red Simpson single in 1966, but did not become prominent until Junior Brown revived it 30 years later.

Bakersfield star Tommy Collins also recorded Dennis Payne songs, and the songwriter’s guitar skills led to touring with Wynn Stewart, Joe & Rose Lee Maphis and Eddie Dean. He was also in the house band at Gary Paxton’s Bakersfield studio.

Owens got Payne a recording contract with Capitol Records, which issued several singles by him in 1975.

Payne moved to Nashville in 1976. Gosdin had a hit with “All I Want and Need Forever” three years later. Dennis Payne recorded for a series of independent labels in Music City. He charted with two singles on True Records in 1988.

His song “True Blue” was on the soundtrack of the Golldie Hawn/Kurt Russell film Overboard in 1987. “Highway Patrol” was in the Jim Carrey movie Me, Myself and Irene in 2000.

Payne also worked as an audio engineer and studio owner/manager in Nashville. He was featured in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s “Bakersfield Sound” exhibit that opened in 2012.

His death was due to complications from heart disease. Dennis Payne is survived by daughters Tracy Payne Black and DeElla Ann Ray, two granddaughters, two brothers, two sisters and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

His service will take place from 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Texas Troubadour Theatre on Music Valley Drive.

Country Songwriting Great Charlie Black Passes

Charlie Black. Photo: Courtesy Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Charlie Black died on Friday (April 23) at age 71.

Black is best known as the co-writer of Anne Murray’s “A Little Good News,” Reba McEntire’s “You Lie” and Jennifer Warnes’ “I Know a Heartache When I See One,” among more than 20 other Top 10 country hits. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1991.

Charles Frank Black was raised in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. He was a construction worker, custodian and produce delivery driver in his early years.

After attending the University of Maryland, he moved to Nashville in 1970 at age 21. His ambition was to become a singer, but country star Tommy Overstreet began recording his co-written songs, which altered Black’s course. Those songs included the top-10 hits “I Don’t Know You (Anymore)” (1971), “Send Me No Roses” (1973), “I’ll Never Break These Chains” (1973), “(Jeannie Marie) You Were a Lady” (1974) and “If I Miss You Again Tonight” (1974).

Black and Rory Bourke became songwriting collaborators in the late 1970s. Anne Murray’s recording of their “Shadows in the Moonlight” became a No. 1 hit in 1979. Teaming up with Kerry Chater, they scored with “I Know a Heartache When I See One” by Jennifer Warnes in that same year. These hits led to Black being named SESAC Country Songwriter of the Year in 1979.

The songwriting team was also responsible for Murray’s hits “Lucky Me” (1980), “Blessed Are the Believers” (1981) and “Another Sleepless Night” (1982). In 1983, “A Little Good News” was named the CMA Single of the Year, earned Murray a Grammy Award and was nominated as the year’s Best Country Song at the Grammys. Black took home ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year honors in 1983 and 1984.

Black, Bourke and Jerry Gillespie were responsible for “Do You Love As Good As You Look,” which was a No. 1 smash for The Bellamy Brothers in 1981.

Another longtime songwriting collaborator was Tommy Rocco. He and Black co-wrote such hits as “Be There For Me Baby” (Johnny Lee, 1982), “Sounds Like Love” (Johnny Lee, 1983), “Slow Burn” (T.G. Sheppard, 1984) and “Another Motel Memory” (Shelly West, 1984). Joined by songwriter Austin Roberts, they also wrote “Honor Bound” (Earl Thomas Conley, 1985) and “Strong Heart” (T.G. Sheppard, 1986).

Roberts and Black co-wrote the No. 1 Gary Morris hit “100% Chance of Rain” (1986). Roberts, Black and Steve Dorff provided Lee Greenwood with “Someone” (1987). Roberts, Black and Buzz Cason created “Timeless and True Love” for The McCarters (1988), and the song was later covered by Jeannie Kendall & Alan Jackson (2003).

Black entered the 1990s as a songwriter by garnering another No. 1 hit, this time with K.T. Oslin (and Bourke) on “Come Next Monday” (1990). Black, Roberts and Bobby Fischer were behind Reba McEntire’s chart-topping “You Lie” (1990). Fischer, Black and Fred MacRae co-wrote the 1994 BlackHawk hit “Goodbye Says It All.”

In 1998, Jo Dee Messina revived “I Know a Heartache When I See One.” In that same year, Black formed a new songwriting partnership with Phil Vassar. They co-wrote Collin Raye’s “Little Red Rodeo” (1998) and Alan Jackson’s “Right on the Money” (1999), as well as Vassar’s singles “Carlene” (with Bourke, 1999), “Six Pack Summer” (with Rocco, 2001) and “Don’t Miss Your Life” (2012).

Others who recorded Charlie Black’s songs included Kenny Rogers, Lynn Anderson, John Conlee, Crystal Gayle, George Strait, Andy Williams, Juice Newton, Charlie Rich, Jerry Reed, The Osmond Brothers, Bobby Bare, Don Williams and Joe Nichols.

Black was married to songwriter Dana Hunt. She co-wrote the George Strait No. 1 hits “Check Yes or No” (with Danny Wells, the 1995 CMA Single of the Year) and “Write This Down” (with Kent Robbins, 1999).

The couple relocated from Nashville to Port St. Joe, Florida several years ago. Charlie Black’s death there was confirmed on his Wikipedia page and by NSAI board president Steve Bogard. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Poco Co-Founder Rusty Young Dies

Pictured: Rusty Young and his wife, Mary. Photo: Courtesy Michael J. Media Group

Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Rusty Young, founding member of country-rock band Poco and an influential steel guitar players in rock history, died yesterday (April 14) of a heart attack at his home in Davisville, Missouri. He was 75.

Norman Russell ‘Rusty’ Young was born February 23, 1946 in Long Beach, California and raised in Denver, Colorado, where he began playing lap steel as a boy and performed in local country and psychedelic rock bands throughout his teens. In 1967, Young was invited to Los Angeles by Richie Furay to play steel on Buffalo Springfield’s third and final album Last Time Around.

Soon after, Young, Furay, George Grantham and Jim Messina formed Poco. Over the next five decades, alongside members that would also include Randy Meisner, Timothy B. Schmit and Paul Cotton, Young became not only the musical core of the band, but also the writer and vocalist behind hits including “Rose Of Cimarron” and the No. 1 smash “Crazy Love.” The current band—led by Young and featuring Jack Sundrud, Rick Lonow and Tom Hampton—still performed over 100 dates per year.

“I made a promise to myself that Poco would only keep going if we remained a band of real musicians who were having fun,” Young said last year. “Because audiences can tell the difference.”

Rusty was inducted into Guitar Player Magazine’s Gallery Of Greats in 1974 and Steel Guitar Hall Of Fame in 2012. Young orchestrated Poco’s 50th anniversary reunion in 2017 and released his solo debut album Waitin’ For The Sun on Blue Elan Records later that year.

“Rusty was the most unpretentious, caring and idyllic artist I have ever worked with, a natural life force that he consistently poured into his music,” says Rick Alter, Poco and Young’s manager of more than 20 years. “To fans and fellow musicians alike, he was a once-in-a-lifetime musician, songwriter, performer and friend.”

Young is survived by his beloved wife Mary, their daughter Sara, son Will, and 3 young grandsons Chandler, Ryan and Graham, as well as Mary’s 3 children Joe, Marci and Hallie and grandchildren Quentin and Emma.

A memorial service will be held October 16 at Wildwood Springs Lodge in Steelville, Missouri where Rusty and Mary met 20 years ago.