Hall Of Fame Songwriter Mark James Passes

Mark James

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame songwriter Mark James has died at age 83.

James was behind such enduring hits as “Suspicious Minds,” “Hooked on a Feeling” and “Always On My Mind.” In addition to his many honors in Music City, he was also a multiple Grammy Award winner in L.A. and a 2014 inductee into the national Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York.

Mark James was born Francis Rodney Zambon in Houston. He learned to play the violin as a child, and switched to guitar as a teenager. His stage name came about in 1960 when local club owners had difficulty pronouncing his birth name.

In the early 1960s, he recorded a series of local singles, including “Jive Note,” “Running Back” and “She’s Gone Away.” But his musical progress was halted by military service in Vietnam. Upon his return, he relocated to Memphis at the urging of singer B.J. Thomas, who had been a childhood friend in Houston. In Memphis, James went to work with producer Chips Moman.

Produced by Moman, B.J. Thomas recorded the first of James’s successful songs, 1968’s “The Eyes of a New York Woman.” The singer followed it with two more James compositions in 1969, “Hooked on a Feeling” and “It’s Only Love.”

Mark James also continued to record, himself. Moman produced his version of “Suspicious Minds” for Scepter Records in 1968. It was not a hit, but Moman took the song to Elvis Presley. Using the same arrangement as the James version, Presley recorded “Suspicious Minds.” It became the superstar’s last No. 1 hit. He also had late-career hits with the Mark James songs “Raised on Rock” (1973) and “Moody Blue” (1976).

In 1973, Mark James issued his self-titled debut LP on Bell Records. Again, it was not a hit. But his songwriting career continued. He teamed up with Johnny Christopher and Wayne Carson to create “Always on My Mind.” Brenda Lee put it out in 1972, but it was not a notable success. Elvis Presley fared somewhat better with the song the following year, scoring a British hit with it.

Brenda Lee returned to the songwriter’s catalog and recorded “Sunday Sunrise” in 1973. It became a top 10 country hit, and Anne Murray had a hit with the song in Canada. Mac Davis scored a big 1974 pop hit with James’s “One Hell of a Woman.”

Also in 1974, the Swedish rock band Blue Swede issued a driving new version of “Hooked on a Feeling.” It became a No. 1 pop smash and an international sensation. In 1976, Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter turned “Suspicious Minds” into a big country hit. B.J. Thomas had pop success with “Everybody Loves a Rain Song” in 1978.

John Wesley Ryles brought “Always on My Mind” back as a country hit in 1979. Then Willie Nelson picked it up in 1982. This time, the song became a titanic pop and country success, winning James a pair of Grammy Awards as Song of the Year and Country Song of the Year. It also won the CMA Award as Song of the Year. “Always on My Mind” came around again in 1988 when the British pop band The Pet Shop Boys had a dance-club smash with it in both the U.S. and England.

Dozens of artists have recorded songs from the Mark James songbook. They include Fine Young Cannibals, The Persuasions, Dwight Yoakam, Roger Whittaker, Dee Dee Warwick, Helen Reddy, Johnny Winter, Del Reeves & Billie Jo Spears, B.B. King, Eddy Arnold, Englebert Humperdinck, Cissy Houston, Floyd Cramer, Little Milton, The Stylistics, Charlie McCoy, Vicki Carr, Ray Peterson, The Partridge Family, Ronnie Milsap, Jose Feliciano, The Sweet Inspirations, Percy Sledge, Lou Rawls, The Box Tops, Millie Jackson and Al Hirt.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Mark James attended UCLA’s film scoring program and studied at the American Film Institute. He began to work composing film soundtracks, beginning with 2001’s Trade Day.

Meanwhile, his classic “Hooked on a Feeling” popped up in such films as Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Mark James songs have also been used on the soundtracks of such hit movies as Kramer Vs Kramer, Honeymoon in Vegas, Breathless, Someone to Watch Over Me, Practical Magic and Frequency.

In 2000, BMI named Mark James one of its top songwriters of the 20th century. This placed his name alongside such legendary figures as Elton John and Paul McCartney.

Mark James died in Nashville on June 8. Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens & Funeral Home (9090 Highway 100) will be handling arrangements, which have not been announced.

Songwriting Great John Schweers Passes

John Schweers

Hit songwriter John Schweers has died at age 78.

One of the finest country writers of his generation, Schweers was responsible for such iconic songs as Charley Pride’s “Amazing Love,” Ronnie Milsap’s “Daydreams About Night Things,” Dave & Sugar’s “Golden Tears” and Trace Adkins’ “I Left Something Turned on at Home.”

The songwriter was a native of San Antonio who began playing guitar and writing songs while in high school. During his college years, he performed in a rock group that toured throughout southwest Texas. After graduation, he moved to California to hone his songwriting skills as he played in various bands.

He began to make contacts in Nashville. His first recorded song appears to have been 1970’s “Alabama Bull of the Woods” by Del Reeves. The songwriter’s first charted tune was “Poor Folks Stick Together,” recorded by Stoney Edwards in 1971. Tom T. Hall took note of John Schweers’ talents, mentored him and encouraged him to move to Music City.

Schweers arrived in 1972 at age 26 with $45 in his pocket. Soon after his arrival on Music Row, he was signed as a staff songwriter by Pi-Gem Music, co-owned by Charley Pride. During the next dozen years, Pride recorded more than 20 John Schweers songs. The company’s Tom Collins offered suggestions to help make the fledgling writer’s songs more commercial. Just as Collins and Hall had aided him, Schweers discovered a teenage Dean Dillon and brought him to his publisher.

The first No. 1 hit penned by John Schweers was Pride’s “Don’t Fight the Feelings of Love” in 1973. Pride’s follow-up single was “Amazing Love,” which also topped the country hit parade. In 1975, Nick Nixon charted with the Schweers song “She’s Just an Old Love Turned Memory.” Pride recorded it two years later and turned it into another No. 1 hit.

As Collins evolved into record production, Schweers gained the ears of Barbara Mandrell, Sylvia, Ronnie Milsap and other stars. Milsap hit No. 1 with Schweers’ “Daydreams About Night Things” in 1975. The superstar repeated the chart-topping feat with the Schweers songs “What Goes On When the Sun Goes Down” (1976) and “Let My Love Be Your Pillow” (1977). Milsap recorded 15 John Schweers compositions.

The songwriter’s other No. 1 hit during the 1970s was “Golden Tears” by Dave & Sugar in 1979. During the decade, his songs were also recorded by Eddy Arnold, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, David Wills, Johnny Russell, Mel Street, Susan Raye, Jim Ed Brown and Jeanne Pruett, among others. 16 of his songs made the country popularity charts in the ‘70s.

In 1978, the Triple I record label issued Nashville’s Master Songwriters Sing Their Hits. On it, Schweers performed his versions of “Daydreams About Night Things,” “She’s Just an Old Love Turned Memory” and “Early Fall,” all of which he wrote solo. The album featured him alongside Harlan Howard, Danny Dill and Allen Reynolds, each of whom also contributed three songs.

Success continued in the 1980s. During this decade, Schweers wrote such top 10 hits as Steve Wariner’s “Your Memory” (1981), Janie Fricke’s “Do Me With Love” (1982) and Mandrell’s “No One Mends a Broken Heart Like You” (1986). The songwriter’s 10 charing singles in the decade included recordings by R.C. Bannon, Butch.Baker, David Frizzell & Shelly West (1986’s “It’s a Be Together Night”), Louise Mandrell and Tom T. Hall. Others who recorded Schweers songs during the 1980s included The Oak Ridge Boys, Tanya Tucker, The Kendalls, Don Williams, The Osmond Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Conway Twitty, Jeannie C. Riley and Charlie Louvin.

John Schweers continued to create hits in the 1990s. Two of his biggest were “Born Country,” sung by Alabama in 1992 and “I Left Something Turned on at Home,” sung by Trace Adkins in 1997. His songs were also recorded in the ‘90s by George Jones, Mel McDaniel, Roy Clark, Daron Norwood & Travis Tritt (1993’s “Phantom of the Opry”), Larry Stewart, Neal McCoy and Johnny Rodriguez.

Since 2000, John Schweers songs have been sung by Mark Wiils, George Strait, The Mississippi Mass Choir, Marty Raybon, Con Hunley, Don Everly, Brother Slade, Buck Owens and Joe Nichols, among others. In addition, his songs from 25-50 years ago continue to receive airplay. The songwriter picked up BMI or ASCAP awards in three different decades. Few in country music have demonstrated songwriting success over such an extended period of time.

He has been a six-time nominee for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, but has not yet been elected. His accomplishments are all the more remarkable in that he mainly wrote his songs alone. Of his 12 top 10 hits, only three were co-written (with Byron Hill, Charles Quillen or Billy Lawson). In a songwriting community overwhelmingly comprised of co-writers, Schweers stood out.

John Schweers passed away in the early morning hours of May 28.

He will be honored on Thursday (June 6) at Brentwood Baptist Church. A Celebration of Life event will begin with visitation from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The service will be from 3 to 3:45 p.m. Visitation will resume following the service. The family plans to have a private burial prior to Thursday’s Celebration of Life.

BREAKING: Music Row Champion Pat Rolfe Passes

Pat Rolfe

Pat Rolfe, one of the first women to head a major publishing company on Music Row, passed away on Friday (May 24) after a battle with cancer. She was 77.

Rolfe began her career at Lamar Fike’s Hill & Range, where she worked with artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, Eddie Rabbit, Bill Monroe, George Morgan and more. She became General Manager of the company in 1972.

Rolfe remained at Hill & Range until Chappell Music purchased it in 1975. She stayed with Chappell and eventually rose to Vice President, a post she held until 1987 when Warner Bros. Music purchased it. During Rolfe’s tenure, Chappell Music was named ASCAP Publisher of the Year seven times.

After leaving Chappell, ASCAP Nashville head Connie Bradley hired Rolfe as Director of Membership Relations. She stayed at ASCAP, rising to the position of Vice President, until 2010. During her time at ASCAP, Rolfe brought in writers such as Tony Mullins, Deryl Dodd, Trevor Rosen, Hillary Lindsey, Josh Kear, Chris Tompkins, Michael Knox, Gerry House, Tim Ryan, Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley and Wynonna Judd.

In 1991, Rolfe and other Music Row leaders Judy Harris and Sheila Shipley Biddy formed SOURCE, an organization focused on fostering relationships and opportunities for women in the entertainment industry. Now the longest-running organization for women in the music industry in Nashville, SOURCE continues to be a tentpole institution for the community.

Rolfe also co-founded the Music Row Ladies Golf Tournament that raises money for charity each year. She was inducted into the SOURCE Hall of Fame in 2012.

Rolfe will be remembered for her commitment to championing and mentoring multiple generations of women in the business. She is survived by her loving husband of 54 years, Mack; her stepchildren, John (Vanessa), Jim (Mary K) and Dick (Michelle); seven grandchildren; brothers, Jim, Mike, Joe, and Charlie Patterson and sister, Margaret Simmons. She was preceded in death by her parents, Marie and George Patterson, and her brother Jerry Patterson and sister-in-law Ann Patterson.

A visitation with the family will be held on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, from 9:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. at Green Hills Community Church with the funeral service beginning at 11:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Bonaparte’s Retreat Dog Rescue, the Green Hills Community Church or a charity of your choice.

Country Producer Bud Logan Passes

Noted Nashville record producer Bud Logan has died at age 83.

Logan is best known for producing 23 top 10 hits for Grand Ole Opry star John Conlee between 1978 and 1988, including such signature songs as “Rose Colored Glasses” and “Friday Night Blues.” He also produced “I Tell It Like It Used to Be” and “Hell and High Water,” which launched the career of Opry star T. Graham Brown.

Born Ira Robert Logan, he was a Tennessee native who first came to prominence as the bass player for The Blue Boys, the backing band of Country Music Hall of Fame member Jim Reeves. After Reeves died in a 1964 plane crash, Logan became the band’s lead singer. The Blue Boys Featuring Bud Logan charted with two RCA singles, 1967’s “My Cup Runneth Over” and 1968’s “I’m Not Ready Yet.”

Logan also recorded as a solo artist, both for RCA (1968-69) and Mercury (1970-71). He formed a successful duo with Wilma Burgess, and the pair had hits with “Wake Me Into Love” and “The Best Day of the Rest of Our Love” in 1974.

He was also a songwriter. Logan’s songs were recorded by Jean Shepard, Billy Large and Charlie Rich, among others. Ernest Tubb released Logan’s “Till My Getup Has Has Gotup and Gone” as a Decca Records single in 1966.

But it was as a record producer that Logan became best known. In addition to the hits of Conlee and Brown, he produced such country artists as Roy Head, Dana McVicker, Johnny Lee, Shane Barnby, B.J. Thomas and Jeff Knight. He was noted as a mentor to many young singers and songwriters in Music City.

Bud Logan passed away in Nashville on May 13. No funeral services have been scheduled. Arrangements are being handled by Forest Lawn Funeral Home & Memorial Gardens.

Larry Garris, Owner Of Corner Music, Passes

Larry Garris

Larry Garris, Owner of Corner Music, passed away on Saturday (May 11) at age 75 after a brief battle with cancer.

Corner Music, one of Nashville’s longest-operating music stores, has sought to support many artists, A-list musicians, engineers and writers for nearly 50 years.

Originally from Albermarle, North Carolina, Garris came to Music City in the early 1970s as a sales representative for Aria Guitars. In 1976, he opened the store in a small building in the Berry Hill neighborhood, offering brand-name instruments as well as studio and stage gear. Corner Music became a popular spot among recording and touring professionals. Garris, along with his staff and family, were widely credited for the store’s expertise and friendly service.

It relocated to 12th Ave. S. near Music Row and Belmont University in 1982. The store has since earned several sales awards from both national and local music publications. Corner Music will continue operating under the leadership of Garris’ sons, Ben and Kirk Garris, at its current location on Dickerson Pike.

Memorial service details for Garris have yet to be announced.

Banjo Great Jim Mills Passes

Jim Mills

Award-winning bluegrass musician Jim Mills unexpectedly passed away on Friday (May 3) at age 57. His cause of death has not been shared.

Throughout his career, Mills’ talented banjo playing earned him gigs with Ricky Skaggs, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Barry Poss with Sugarhill Records, Bass Mountain Boys, Vince Gill, Dolly Parton and more. He was a longtime member of Skaggs’ Kentucky Thunder band and released solo material as well.

James Robert “Jim” Mills was born and raised the youngest of three boys in Raleigh, North Carolina. He started teaching himself to play banjo at 12 years old. After high school, Mills began pursuing a career in bluegrass full-time with the group Summer Wages. This led to a long career in various bands.

Mills shared his talent from the stage at the Grand Ole Opry and Carnegie Hall. He won the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Banjo Player of the Year award six times as well as the IBMA Instrumental Album of the Year for his Bound To Ride album and six Grammy Awards.

Nicknamed “Smilin’ Jim” in the bluegrass community, Mills was known for his friendliness. He was also known for his knowledge of the history of banjos—even writing a book on Gibson pre-war banjos in 2009.

After retiring from the road in 2010, Mills acted as a dealer of rare banjos and guitars and held seminars on the subject.

Mills was preceded in death by his brothers Michael and Alan, father John and mother Shirley. He is survived by his wife Kimberly Mills, his step-mother Mary “Annie” Roberts, mother-in-law Linda Gregory Mills, father-in-law George Neil Mixon, brother-in-law Robert Mixon (Kate) and nieces Hannah and Emma Mixon.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Songwriting Great Wayland Holyfield Passes

Wayland Holyfield

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Wayland Holyfield died Monday (May 6) at age 82.

During a five-decade career on Music Row, Holyfield created such classics as “Could I Have This Dance,” “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend” and “You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had.” He wrote more than 40 top 10 country hits, including 14 No. 1s. His songs were recorded by a who’s-who of country stars, including Reba McEntire, Waylon Jennings, Mark Chesnutt, George Strait, Conway Twitty, Randy Travis, The Judds, Barbara Mandrell, Shenandoah, Mac Davis and Tammy Wynette. He was particularly noted for hits he wrote for and/or with Country Music Hall of Fame member Don Williams.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Wayland Holyfield was raised in a musical family. He studied violin, played bass in the local band The Rebels and wrote songs as a hobby. After graduating from the University of Arkansas, he worked at an ad agency.

Unhappy in his job, he decided to make music his profession. He toured with the singing trio The General Store, then moved to Nashville in 1972. A year later, he had his first hit when Johnny Russell recorded his cowritten “Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer.” In 1975, Holyfield wrote his first No. 1 record, the Don Williams hit “You’re My Best Friend.”

Williams returned to Holyfield’s catalog in 1976 for “She Never Knew Me” and their co-written “Til the Rivers All Run Dry.” Also that year, Crystal Gayle had a major hit with “I’ll Do It All Over Again,” which Holyfield wrote with Bob McDill. In 1977, Charley Pride scored with “I’ll Be Leaving Alone,” co-written by Holyfield with Dickey Lee, his frequent collaborator and lifelong friend. Also in that year, Don Williams resumed his Holyfield association with the No. 1 smash “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend.”

In 1978, Mel Street scored with “If I Had a Cheating Heart.” Next, Holyfield and McDill cowrote the 1979 Ronnie Milsap chart-topper “Nobody Likes Sad Songs.”

Holyfield’s success continued into the 1980s. Janie Fricke hit the top 10 with his “I’ll Need Someone to Hold Me (When I Cry),” again co-written with McDill. Then Anne Murray’s version of the Wayland Holyfield/Bob House song “Could I Have This Dance” was chosen as the love theme for the hit movie Urban Cowboy. Holyfield said that the Grammy-winning, No. 1 hit was his favorite of his many compositions. It remains a popular wedding anthem.

His parade of hits continued with “Never Been So Loved in My Life” (Charley Pride, 1981), “You’ll Be Back (Every Night)” (The Statler Brothers, 1981), “You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had” (Ed Bruce, 1981), “Put Your Dreams Away” (Mickey Gilley, 1982), “Tears of the Lonely (Mickey Gilley, 1982), “Don’t Count the Rainy Days” (Michael Martin Murphey, 1983) and “Your Love Shines Through” (Mickey Gilley, 1983).

Wayland Holyfield was named ASCAP’s Country Songwriter of the Year in 1982. A 1992 inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, he collaborated with such fellow Hall of Fame members as Gary Nicholson, Norro Wilson and Richard Leigh, as well as McDill, Williams, Russell and Lee.

Such 1985 Holyfield hits as “You’re Going Out of My Mind” (T.G. Sheppard) and “Break Away” (Gail Davies), plus 1989’s “(I Wish I Had) A Heart of Stone” (Baillie & The Boys) were followed by 1990’s “Only Here For a Little While” (Billy Dean) and “Down in Tennessee” (John Anderson).

Holyfield was passionate about his home state throughout his life. He wrote “Arkansas (You Run Deep in Me)” for the state’s sesquicentennial in 1986. It was selected as the state song the following year, and he performed it at the presidential inauguration of native son Bill Clinton in 1993.

He was always a forceful advocate on behalf of the songwriting community. Wayland Holyfield was the first Music City tunesmith elected to the national ASCAP Board of Directors. He also served as President of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and as Chairman of the Nashville Songwriters Foundation’s board. He served on the boards of the Recording Academy’s Nashville chapter and the Nashville Entertainment Association. His zeal for songwriters led him to testify before Congress on their behalf.

Wayland Holyfield suffered health problems in recent years, but remained active in the industry, including serving on the board of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He died at home in his sleep. He is survived by his wife Nancy and their children.

A memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday, May 28, 2024, at First Presbyterian Church (4815 Franklin Pike in Nashville). Visitation will begin at 9:00 a.m. with the service following at 10:30 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be sent to Faith Family Medical Center Nashville, Vantage Point Foundation (Veterans Pushing Forward) or Nashville Rescue Mission.

Roy Carter, DelFest & High Sierra Festival Co-Founder, Dies

Roy Carter

Roy Carter, one of the original founders of the High Sierra Music Festival and DelFest, passed away of congestive heart failure on April 29. He was 68.

Carter got his start in the business doing publicity for clubs and venues, and creating recycling programs for festivals and music events. In 1991 he and three other partners started High Sierra Music Festival in Leland Meadows, California. The festival pioneered featuring rock, acoustic, bluegrass, jazz and folk all together in one weekend.

High Sierra Music Festival nurtured the burgeoning jam scene, helping boost the careers of acts such as the String Cheese Incident, Leftover Salmon, Yonder Mountain String Band, the Slip, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Umphrey’s McGee and many others. Carter had a keen eye for talent, and was known for booking bands very early in their careers such as Billy Strings, the Revivalists, Avett Brothers and the Lumineers.

Carter is survived by his wife, Carla, and daughter, as well as his sister Anne and brother Bob. In lieu of flowers, Carter requested donations to the American Heart Association or a local food bank.

Guitar Icon Duane Eddy Passes

Duane Eddy. Photo: Courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s archive

Rock ’n’ roll Hall of Fame member Duane Eddy has died at age 86.

The Grammy Award-winning instrumentalist was famed for a series of reverb-heavy, twang-drenched recordings of the 1950s and 1960s. Easily the most prominent of the early rock guitarists, he influenced hundreds of stylists, including Georg Harrison, The Ventures, The Shadows, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Bruce Springsteen and Ry Cooder. A Nashville resident for more than 40 years, Duane Eddy was the most successful solo rock instrumentalist in history.

He was born in Corning, New York in 1938 and was playing guitar by the age of five. He debuted on local radio when he was 10. In 1951, the family moved to Arizona. Four years later, he began working with producer Lee Hazelwood, who shaped his distinctive style. Long before Hazelwood discovered Gram Parsons and worked with everyone from Nancy Sinatra to Ann Margret, Duane Eddy was the star maker’s first project.

Eddy and Hazelwood had their first recording session in 1956. Working in Phoenix, they crafted “Movin’ N Groovin,” “Rebel Rouser,” “Ramrod” and “Cannonball,” all of which hit the pop charts in 1958. Late that year, Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel was issued as Eddy’s debut LP.

His distinctive sound incorporated reverb-enhanced melodies played on the bass guitar strings, hand claps, rebel yells and saxophone wailing. His shy demeanor and striking good looks made him a teen heartthrob. Rock ‘n’ roll kingmaker Dick Clark featured him on his national American Bandstand TV series more than any other artist. He also put Eddy on the road in his famous “Caravan of Stars” rock ’n’ roll touring troupes. Unknown to the guitarist, Clark had a financial interest in Jamie Records, Eddy’s label.

Eddy’s band The Rebels featured such standouts as Al Casey, Steve Douglas, Jim Horn, Larry Knechtel, Plas Johnson and pioneering female instrumentalist Corky Casey. All of them later became topnotch L.A. session musicians.

Beginning in 1959, Duane Eddy’s records were massive successes in England, usually surpassing their U.S. chart peaks. “The Lonely Ones,” “Yep,” “Peter Gunn Theme,” “Forty Miles of Bad Road,” “The Quiet Three,” “Some Kind-a Earthquake” and “First Love, First Tears” all became U.K. hits that year, as did his second LP, Especially For You.

In an era when few teen artists issued LPs, Duane Eddy stood out. In 1960, he issued The Twang’s the Thang, his groundbreaking “unplugged” album Songs of Our Heritage and $1,000,000 Worth of Twang. The following year’s LP was Girls! Girls! Girls!, featuring him posing on the jacket with teen queens Brenda Lee and Annette. The hit singles continued with “Bonnie Came Back,” “Kommotion” and “Shazam!” The last named was drawn from the soundtrack of the Tuesday Weld movie Because They’re Young. Eddy also scored a hit with the film’s title tune. In addition, Duane Eddy and The Rebels appeared in Because They’re Young.

He moved to Los Angeles. Film soundtrack work continued with 1961’s “Ring of Fire,” which became a U.K. hit. It was the title tune of a David Janssen movie, which the guitarist scored. Some of his biggest hits were drawn from film or TV soundtracks, including Peter Gunn, Pepe, Gidget Goes Hawaiian and The Ballad of Palladin (Have Gun Will Travel).

In addition to 1960’s Because They’re Young, Duane Eddy appeared in A Thunder of Drums (1961), The Wild Westerners (1962), The Savage Seven (1968), The Kona Coast (1968) and Sing a Country Song (1973). He also appeared in two episodes of the hit TV western series Have Gun Will Travel.

In 1962, he married Phoenix singer-songwriter Miriam Johnson, his second wife. Following their 1968 divorce, she became Jessi Colter, married Waylon Jennings, moved to Nashville and had hits including 1975’s “I’m Not Lisa.”

Duane Eddy’s flurry of albums of the early 1960s included Twistin’ and Twangin’ (1962), Twangy Guitar Silky Strings (1962), $1,000,000 Worth of Twang Vol. 2 (1962), Twistin’ With Duane Eddy (1962), In Person (1963), Twangin’ Up a Storm (1963), Surfin’ With Duane Eddy (1963), Lonely Guitar (1964), Water Skiing (1964) and Twangin’ the Golden Hits (1964).

“Theme From Dixie,” “Drivin’ Home” and “My Blue Heaven” closed out his tenure with Jamie Records. He signed with RCA. The label teamed him with The Rebelettes (actually Darlene Love & The Blossoms), and he enjoyed a sting of 1962-63 singles with “Dance With the Guitar Man,” “Boss Guitar,” “Lonely Boy, Lonely Guitar” and “Your Baby’s Gone Surfin.’”

He also embarked on a series of “theme” albums. These included Twang a Country Song (1963), Duane A Go Go Go (1965), Duane Eddy Does Bob Dylan (1965) and The Roaring Twangies (1967).

By the close of the 1960s, Duane Eddy had placed 30 titles on the pop charts and had sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide. In 1972, he joined B.J. Thomas and The Blossoms on the hit single “Rock and Roll Lullaby.” The following year, he produced Phil Everly’s album Star Spangled Springer,” which contained the future Hollies hit “The Air That I Breathe.”

In 1975, Eddy scored a huge international hit with “Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar.” In 1977, he appeared on the country charts with “You Are My Sunshine,” featuring vocals by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kin Vassy and his wife, Deed Eddy. In the wake of this encouragement, the couple moved to Nashville.

Duane Eddy returned to touring in the 1980s. His band at the time featured his admirer Ry Cooder on guitar. In 1986, a version of “Peter Gunn” recorded with The Art of Noise became an international hit and earned him a Grammy Award. His 1987 comeback album included appearances by Cooder, Paul McCartney, Jeff Lynne, John Fogerty, George Harrison, James Burton, David Lindley and Steve Cropper.

During the 1990s, Duane Eddy’s music appeared on the soundtracks of such prominent films as Forrest Gump, Natural Born Killers, Broken Arrow, Milk Money and Scream 2. His guitar collaboration with Doc Watson earned a country Grammy nomination in 1995.

Duane Eddy was inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. His influence continued when the Gretsch Guitar Company issued its Duane Eddy 6120 Signature Model, based on his specifications, in 1998. The Paul Revera Company issued its Duane Eddy Model amplifier the following year. In 2004, Guitar Player magazine honored the guitar superstar with its Legend Award. In 2008, he was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame. Eddy appeared at the 2014 Stagecoach festival. Nashville admirer Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) enlisted Duane Eddy for his 2017 solo album Waiting on a Song.

The legendary guitarist died on Tuesday, April 30, after a battle with cancer. He survived by his wife Deed Abbate Eddy and by four children, five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. He is also survived by a sister. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Tom Foote, Longtime Road Manager For George Strait, Passes

Tom Foote

Longtime road manager for George Strait, Tom Foote, has passed away. His passing tragically comes a little over a month after Strait and his band suffered two losses on the same day when his longtime manager Erv Woolsey and his fiddle and mandolin player Gene Elders both died.

Foote first met Strait back in 1975 when his band posted a flyer looking for a singer at Southwest Texas State University. Strait, an agriculture major just back from a stint serving in the Army, auditioned, and the rest is history. The band became Strait’s Ace In The Hole Band and he and Foote became lifelong friends and business partners. As former drummer for the band, Foote transitioned to Strait’s tour manager in 1983.


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“We were a bunch of kids back then,” Foote told the Lexington Herald Leader in 2010. “I was 23 and I think George was 24, maybe. We were playing local beer joints and dance halls and really did that for the better part of six years until he got his record deal with MCA. In fact, until George had his record deal, we had never played outside of Texas. It was a really great time. Some of my favorite memories were when we first started.”

Foote had other ties to the music business as well. His uncle was writer Horton Foote, best known for his screenplays for To Kill A Mockingbird and Tender Mercies.

“We lost another one of our good friends and a huge part of our musical journey yesterday,” Strait wrote on Instagram about the loss of his dear friend. “Tom Foote, our one-time drummer and long-time road manager for around 48 years, suddenly passed away at his home after our rehearsal. The band and I were with him most of the afternoon and he was great. Just doing what he loved to do which was making sure we were taken care of. 2024 is taking its toll on the Ace in the Hole group. We’re all heartbroken to say the least. Rest in peace brother Tom. You will be hugely missed. I’ll see you down the road amigo.”

Funeral arrangements for Foote have not yet been announced.