Tom T. Hall Dead: Country singer / songwriter was 85

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“Not many people could tell a story like Tom T. Hall,” Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern said in a statement after his death. “As a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist he was one of those triple threat artists who continued to impact the next generation. I will always remember growing up listening to the music of Tom T .with my dad, who was a huge fan of bluegrass and country.

Hall was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1971, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1978, the Kentucky Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002, and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008. He received the Academy of Country Music. in 2010.

“Tom T. Hall’s masterpieces vary in plot, tone and tempo, but they are bound by his relentless and unyielding empathy for the triumphs and losses of others,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame, following the news of Hall’s death. “My bet is that we won’t see people like him again, but if we do, I’ll be the first in line for tickets to the show.

Hall, who often gave his friends homemade moonlight from his own still, was born on May 25, 1936 in Olive Hill, Ky. As a teenager, Hall had joined his first band. of bluegrass, the Kentucky Travelers. He also worked as a DJ before joining the military in 1957.

Upon his return to Virginia after his military service, he impressed Nashville editor Jimmy Key, and Key placed Hall’s “DJ for a Day” with Jimmy C. Newman, who won a Hot Country Songs top 10 in 1963- 64.

Hall moved to Nashville on Virginia’s 1964 New Years Day, with a publishing deal in hand. He got his first number 1 as a songwriter in 1965 when “Hello Vietnam”, recorded by Johnny Wright, dominated Hot Country Songs. Songs from dozens of followed artists including Johnny Cash, Bobby Bare, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings and most recently Alan Jackson’s Hot Country Songs # 1 “Little Bitty” in 1996.

Although rare now, Hall tended to write on his own instead of bringing in other songwriters. “I once said with a lot of arrogance that writing a song is like writing a letter to your mother: you don’t need three or four guys to help you do it,” he said. Hall said. Billboard in 2019. “I know that sounds arrogant, but I’ve never been good at it.”

Mercury Records Nashville signed Hall’s own recording contract, although Hall doubted being an artist was his strength. He was wrong. Fans and radio alike turned to his conversational performance.

“I was listening to the radio one day and someone said to me, ‘This sounds like a song by Tom T. Hall’,” he said. Billboard. “I said, ‘I have to do something a little different from everyone else because now there is a song by Tom T. Hall, and I’m going to buy into it.’ We are looking for a little distinction in the world to distinguish one person from another. “

As an artist, Hall amassed 50 songs on BillboardHot Country Songs chart, including seven # 1 hits: “A Week in Country Jail”, “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died”, “(Old Dogs-Children And) Watermelon Wine”, “I Love”, “Country Is ”,“ I Care ”and“ Faster Horses (The Cowboy and the Poet) ”.

Hall’s highest hit on the Billboard Hot 100 All Genres as an artist was “I Love,” which reached No.12 in March 1974.

Hall landed seven top 10 albums on BillboardTop country albums chart of, including reaching # 1 on this chart with The Rhymer and other five and dimers in June 1973.

He received seven CMA Award nominations during his career, including five in 1973 alone, although he never won an award. He was nominated that year for artist, singer and album, single and song of the year.

He won six Grammys, including Song of the Year (1968) for writing “Harper Valley, PTA,” but he won his only Grammy in an unlikely category: Top Album Ratings for writing the ratings of cover of his 1972 album. Tom T. Hall’s Greatest Hits.

Long after retiring as a songwriter, some of Hall’s songs found favor with beer brands, to his delight and that of his wallet. Michelob Ultra used his 1975 hit “I Like Beer” in a 2018 commercial, while the more unlikely Coors Light licensed the sentimental “I Love” for an ad campaign.

“It improved my bank account by half a million dollars,” Hall said of the Coors campaign. “I heard the commercials all the time, but I had no idea what they were singing about. That’s why they paid so much money for it: they wanted to be able to rewrite it.”

In addition to his songwriting gifts, he also brought solace through his very presence as an imposing figure in Nashville. “In 1978, when we sang at Mama Maybelle Carter’s funeral, a saddened Johnny Cash stepped onto the podium and asked Tom T. Hall to stand with him,” the Oak Ridge Boys said on Twitter. “Johnny said ‘I’m pulling strength from you Tom!’ Thank you Tom T. Hall for the song and the strength you have provided to so many people.

Hall’s beloved wife of 50 years, Dixie – a songwriter herself, whom he met at the BMI Country Awards in 1964 – passed away in 2015. He is survived by his son, Dean.

–Help with the preparation of this story provided by Jessica Nicholson and Paul Grein



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