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21 August 2021

Tom T Hall, Country Music Songwriting Great, Dies At 85

Tom T Hall
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Tom T Hall, the singer-songwriter and Country Music Hall Of Fame inductee known as “The Storyteller” for his detailed narrative songs like Harper Valley PTA, has passed away aged 85. His son Dean confirmed the news on Twitter, writing, “With great sadness, my father, Tom T Hall, died this morning at his home in Franklin, Tennessee. Our family asks for privacy during this difficult time.”

Born in Olive Hill, Kentucky, Hall began his career by playing in a bluegrass band called The Kentucky Travelers as a teenager. In 1957, he joined the US Army, performing over the Armed Forces Radio Network while stationed in Germany. Upon returning home, he worked as a radio announcer and disc jockey at various country music stations around the South East US. All the while, he wrote songs in his free time, and in 1963, a publisher heard his song, DJ For A Day, and brought it to singer Jimmy C Newman, who recorded it and helped Hall score his first US Top 10 hit as a songwriter.

The following year, Hall moved to Nashville to become a professional songwriter. He went on to write swell-loved ongs including Hello Vietnam, (Old Dogs, Children And) Watermelon Wine, I Love, Country Is, Faster Horses (The Cowboy And The Poet), and Harper Valley PTA, which became a No 1 hit when Jeannie C Riley recorded it in 1968. Her version won a Grammy, and it was so popular that it was spun off into a movie and a sitcom.

In 1998, the tirbute album, Real: The Tom T Hall Project, demonstrated the esteem his fellow artists held him in, featuring covers of his songs by a host of Americana’s leading lights including Johnny Cash, Ralph Stanley, Calexico and Ron Sexsmith.

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