Hit songwriter and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Ted Harris died at his home in Lewisburg, Tenn., on Nov. 22. He was 78.

Theodore Clifford Harris was born in Lakeland, Fla., on Aug. 2, 1937, and grew up around music. His father played violin and guitar, his mom played piano, and the family tuned in to the Grand Ole Opry every Saturday evening. Harris himself proved to be a quick learner: By age 12, he had written his first song.

In 1958, when he was 20 years old, Harris moved to Nashville. Because of his love for Grand Ole Opry star Hank Snow, he stopped by the singer's publishing company, Silver Star, and met country star Ted Daffan ("Born to Lose"), who became his mentor.

"Whatever Ted said, I listened to, because he was successful," Harris said of their relationship.

After seven years of working in the grocery business and writing songs in his free time, Harris finally had his first big hit with "Crystal Chandelier" in 1965. The song was recorded by dozens of artists, including Mac Wiseman and Charley Pride.

Harris co-founded his own publishing company, and his music was recorded by many famous artists. His portfolio includes Dottie West's "Paper Mansions," Pride’s “The Happiness of Havin’ You” and Glen Campbell and Steve Wariner’s “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle," among many others. Ferlin Husky, Roy Drusky, Jack Greene and Jeannie Seely are among the other country stars who have lent their voices to Harris' songs.

While most songwriters collaborated with others, Harris wrote on his own. It worked, and by the end of the 1970s, he'd accumulated 87 SESAC Awards, several NSAI Outstanding Achievement Awards and 120 cuts by major artists. He remains the most awarded country songwriter in the history of the SESAC and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1990, calling it a "mountain-top experience."

Harris retired in 2001 and sold his publishing company to Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

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