We were deeply saddened to learn that Hank Cochran, Nashville recording artist and one of the finest country songwriters of the last half century, passed away this week after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Cochran was never a household name as a vocalist, though he did record plenty. As a songwriter, however, he was among the finest to ever come through Nashville. And among the most successful, having penned such golden-era classics as “I Fall To Pieces” (Patsy Cline), “Make the World Go Away” (Eddie Arnold), and “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me” (Ray Price).
One notable song Cochran wrote was Johnny Paycheck’s first big hit, “A-11,” a honky-tonk ballad in which the singer asks a fellow bar patron to avoid a certain jukebox track, or “there’ll be tears.” The success of that song prompted Paycheck to make his own plea for more great material from the master, doing so via his own composition, “Help Me Hank, I’m Falling.”
Cochran’s success didn’t stop with the end of the ’60s, though. He continued writing relevant material for decades afterward, including songs that became hits for artists like George Strait, Keith Whitley, Lee Ann Womack, and Brad Paisley.
We were deeply saddened to learn that he passed away this week after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Read more details on Hank from The Boot:
Hank Cochran, the legendary songwriter who penned such classic tunes as ‘I Fall to Pieces’ for Patsy Cline, ‘Make the World Go Away’ by Eddy Arnold, and George Strait’s ‘Ocean Front Property’ and ‘The Chair,’ died at his Hendersonville, Tenn., home north of Nashville Thursday morning (July 15). He was 74.
Jamey Johnson, Billy Ray Cyrus and songwriter/producer Buddy Cannon dropped by Hank’s home on Wednesday to sing songs with Hank, who was surrounded by family and friends when he passed away. A private, family memorial will be held in the near future, and details will be announced for a public service to follow. In April of this year, Hank had emergency surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. He was treated for pancreatic cancer in 2008.
Hank was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Association International Hall of Fame by unanimous vote in 1974. He is also a member of the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame and the Country Music Walkway of Stars. In June 2009, he was honored by BMI for his 50-plus years in the music business. Merle Haggard and Elvis Costello were among those in attendance at the celebration.
The LA Times also ran a nice piece on Hank with quotes from friends Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, and Jamey Johnson.
Says Kristofferson: “When I came to Nashville in 1965 there were four songwriters who were in a class by themselves at the top of the business: Roger Miller, Hank Cochran, Willie Nelson and Harlan Howard. They didn’t just write the most hits; their songs were beautiful, timeless classics. And on top of that they were some of the funniest people on the planet.”
Watch a promo clip from a Hank Cochran documentary that premiered at this year’s Nashville Film Festival: