Songcraft: Spotlight on Songwriters Podcast


The last Songcraft episode of 2015 features a fascinating conversation with Mars Bonfire, of "Born to be Wild" fame. Before getting to the interview, however, Scott and Paul took some time to remember a few of the songwriters we lost in the last year. Following is a list of the writers they mentioned, as well as a few others who we recently learned had passed away over the last twelve months. Please take a moment to further explore these writers' careers and musical contributions by clicking on any writer's photo for additional information.

Andrae Crouch - January 8

Known as the Father of Modern Gospel Music. Crouch was an arranger, producer, pastor, and songwriter who wrote “The Blood Will Never Lose It’s Power,” “My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)” and “Soon and Very Soon.” He collaborated with Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Quincy Jones, and conducted the choirs for Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.”

A.J. Masters - January 12
Country singer-songwriter best remembered for "Change My Mind," which was recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys and John Berry. Also known for Randy Travis' "An Old Pair of Shoes" and Faith Hill's "Love Ain't Like That."

Kim Fowley – January 15
Best known as the controversial mastermind and manager behind the Runaways, Fowley wrote songs for the Byrds, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Leon Russell, and others.

Dixie Hall - January 15
Country and bluegrass writer who penned Dave Dudley's "Truck Driving Son of a Gun," Johnny Cash's "Troublesome Waters," and Miranda Lambert's "All That's Left." Wife of fellow songwriter Tom T. Hall.

Ervin Drake – January 15
The Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee who wrote “It Was a Very Good Year” and “I Believe.” His songs were recorded by Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, and others. He was the founding president of the organization now known as the Songwriters Guild of America.

Rose Marie McCoy – January 20
The pioneering African-American songwriter’s catalog includes “I Beg of You,” which was recorded by Elvis Presley and “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine” by Ike & Tina Turner. Others who recorded her songs include Aretha Franklin, Nat “King” Cole, Eddy Arnold, Ruth Brown, James Taylor, and many more.

Rod McKuen – January 29
Also known as a singer and poet, McKuen’s songs were recorded by Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Dusty Springfield, Chet Baker, Johnny Mathis, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and others.

Don Covay – January 31
As an artist Covay scored hits with his own compositions “Pony Time,” “Mercy Mercy” and “See Saw” before finding success with other artists’ recordings of his songs, including “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin and “Sookie Sookie” by Steppenwolf.

Joe B. Mauldin - February 7
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Musicians Hall of Famer, and former bassist for the Crickets. Co-wrote "Well All Right," "Last Night," and "I'm Gonna Love You Too."

Mosie Lister – February 12
Gospel great and former member of the Statesmen Quartet who wrote “How Long Has It Been,” “Where No One Stands Alone,” and a long list of songs recorded by artists ranging from George Beverly Shea to Elvis Presley.

Bobby Emmons - February 23
Legendary studio musician who also made his mark as a songwriter with Waylon Jennings' "The Wurlitzer Prize," George Strait's "So Much Like My Dad," and Waylon and Willie's "Luckenbach, Texas."

Wayne Kemp – March 9
His first big hit was “Love Bug” for George Jones in 1965. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer went on to pen hits for George Strait, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, and others.

Andy Fraser – March 16
Though he started out playing with John Mayall, Fraser is best remembered as the bassist for the band Free, and for co-writing their major hit “All Right Now.” He also wrote “Every Kinda People,” which was Robert Palmer’s first Top 20 hit in the U.S.

Don Robertson – March 16
The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer wrote classics such as “I Don’t Hurt Anymore,” “Please Help Me I’m Falling,” and 15 songs for Elvis.

Sandy Mason – April 1
Best known for co-writing the #1 Garth Brooks hit “Two Pina Coladas.”

Doug Gilmore – April 3
Gilmore joined forces with Mickey Newbury to write Jerry Lee Lewis’s hit “She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye.”

Nancy Montgomery – April 17
The actress, singer and writer penned three Top 10 country hits in the 1980s, including the Top 5 single “The Gift” by the McCarters.

Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett – April 24 and July 2
Tepper and Bennett wrote 43 songs for Elvis Presley, more than any other writer or writing team. The pair also penned “Red Roses for a Blue Lady,” “Nuttin’ for Christmas,” “The Young Ones,” and “Glad All Over,” which was recorded by the Beatles. Others who recorded their songs include Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughn, and Dean Martin.

Tex Logan - April 24
Bluegrass fiddler who wrote the holiday standard “Christmas Time’s A-Coming,” which has been covered by Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, and many others.

Ben E. King – April 30
The former Drifters singer who provided lead vocals for “There Goes My Baby,” “Save the Last Dance For Me,” and “This Magic Moment” is best remembered for his solo hit “Stand By Me, which he co-wrote with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

Errol Brown – May 6
Lead singer of Hot Chocolate who handled the vocals on the 1970s classic “You Sexy Thing,” which he also wrote.  Additionally, he co-wrote the song “Brother Louie,” which is the opening theme to the FX TV show, Louie.

B.B. King – May 14
Though the blues legend didn’t write many of his best known songs, he contributed original material to a number of his many albums and adapted several blues songs into classics. His distinct arrangements revolutionized electric blues music.

Elbert West - May 18
Singer-songwriter who co-wrote Tracy Lawrence's first hit, “Sticks and Stones," as well as Lawrence's “Can’t Break It to My Heart.”

Louis Johnson – May 21
The bassist and member of the R&B and funk group The Brothers Johnson co-wrote their hits “I’ll Be Good to You” and “Stomp.”

Jean Ritchie – June 1
Appalachian music icon who became part of the Greenwich Village folk scene and helped establish the Newport Folk Festival. She was dubbed “the Mother of Folk” by Joan Baez, and her songs were recorded by Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Graham Nash, and many others.

Randy Howard – June 9
The former Warner Bros. Records country singer and songwriter died in a shoot-out with a bounty hunter in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

Ornette Coleman – June 11
The alto saxophonist was an innovator of the free jazz movement and, beginning with his landmark album The Shape of Jazz to Come in 1959, was a widely respected experimenter who challenged the traditional boundaries of the form.

James Horner – June 22
Horner composed the music for more than 100 films and collaborated on classic pop songs such as “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tail and “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic.

Chris Squire – June 28
The respected bassist and co-founder of Yes co-wrote the group’s hits “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”

Red Lane – July 1
The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member wrote “‘Til I Get it Right” for Tammy Wynette. Merle Haggard recorded about 30 of Red’s songs, including the hit “My Own Kind of Hat.” His songs were recorded by Loretta Lynn, George Strait, Bob Dylan, and just about everybody who ever recorded in Nashville.

Ernie Maresca – July 8
Best remembered as the writer of Dion’s biggest hits, “Runaround Sue” and “The Wanderer.”

Buddy Buie – July 18
After finding early songwriting success with Roy Orbison, Buie produced the Classics IV and co-wrote their major hits, including “Spooky,” “Traces,” and “Stormy.” He went on to form the Atlanta Rhythm Section and wrote the hits “So In to You,” “Imaginary Lover,” and many others.

Wayne Carson – July 20
He wrote “The Letter” for the Box Tops and “Always On My Mind” which was a hit for both Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson. He had songs recorded by Ike and Tina Turner, Waylon Jennings, B.B. King, and many others.

Johnny Slate - July 24
Composer of many of Razzy Bailey's hits, as well as "Better Love Next Time" by Dr. Hook and "Blaze of Glory" by Kenny Rogers. Others who recorded his songs include Eddy Arnold, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, John Denver, Delbert McClinton, Charlie Rich, and Tom Jones.

Billy Sherrill – August 8
The Country Music Hall of Famer and legendary producer wrote nearly 20 #1 country hits, including “My Elusive Dreams,” and “Stand By Your Man.” His “Almost Pursuaded” won a Grammy, while “‘Til I Can Make it On My Own” and “The Most Beautiful Girl” were both CMA Song of the Year winners.

Bommer Castleman - September 1
Began his career in the duo the Lewis and Clarke Expedition with Michael Martin Murphy, co-writing their "I Feel Good (I Feel Bad)" and "(What Am I Doin') Hangin' Round," which was recorded by the Monkees. Went on to make his mark as a solo artist and studio guitarist.

Gary Richrath – September 18
REO Speedwagon guitarist wrote their major hit “Take It on the Run."

Allen Toussaint – November 10
The legendary New Orleans musician, producer, arranger, and songwriter penned classics such as “Fortune Teller,” "Workin' in the Coal Mine,” and “Southern Nights.” He produced unforgettable records including Dr. John’s “Right Place, Wrong Time” and Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade.”

P.F. Sloan – November 15
The highly respected singer/songwriter found his greatest success with others’ recordings of his songs, including Barry McGuire’s version of “Eve of Destruction” and Johnny Rivers’ “Secret Agent Man.”

Ted Harris – November 22
With hits including Dottie West’s “Paper Mansions” and the country standard “Crystal Chandelier,” Harris earned induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Scott Weiland – December 3
The troubled front man of Stone Temple Pilots was the lyricist for their hits, including “Plush,” “Wicked Garden,” “Creep,” “Big Empty,” “Vasoline,” “Interstate Love Song,” and more. He went on to form the rock supergroup Velvet Revolver, where he collaborated with Slash and his other band mates on the hits “Slither” and “Fall to Pieces.”

Don Chapel – December 6
Chapel was once married to Tammy Wynette, who recorded several of his songs. Others who covered his compositions include Ray Price, Eddy Arnold, Doug Kershaw, and George Jones, whose version of Chapel’s “When the Grass Grows Over Me” earned a CMA Song of the Year nomination in 1969.

Don Pfrimmer – December 7
The longtime Nashville songwriter earned 14 ASCAP awards penning such hits as Tim McGraw’s “All I Want Is a Life,” Diamond Rio’s “Meet in the Middle, Lonestar’s “My Front Porch Looking In,” and Ronnie Milsap’s “She Keeps the Home Fires Burning.”

Lemmy Kilmister - December 28
Lead singer, bassist and primary songwriter for the British hard rock band Motorhead. He penned singles such as "Ace of Spades," which NME magazine ranked one of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time," as well as most of the titles on the group's classic live album No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith, which hit #1 on the UK album chart in 1981. Additionally, he penned the song "R.A.M.O.N.E.S." for the Ramones and was the lyricist for a number of Ozzy Osbourne tracks, including "Hellraiser" and "Mama, I'm Coming Home." The latter was Osbourne's only Top 40 single as a solo artist on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Natalie Cole - December 31
Best known as an interpreter of songs, the nine-time Grammy winner earned the Songwriters Hall of Fame's Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award in 1999, which is bestowed on artists "who recognize the importance of songs and their writers." As a writer, the celebrated vocalist penned several of her own titles, including the charting singles "Sophisticated Lady (She's a Different Lady)," "Annie Mae," "Stand By," "Angel on My Shoulder," and "Livin' for Love."


2016-01-06 03:11:34 - Kevin Cox
Nice ! One left out though Tulsa songwriter/performer Steve Hardin...
2016-01-04 10:54:11 - Kristen R.
Great to hear Scott and Paul take us through the year in memories with the great songwriters we love and lost.
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