Songwriter and Guitarist Wayne Kemp Dies
Guitarist and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Wayne Kemp died on Monday (March 9) at Macon County General Hospital in Lafayette, Tenn. He was 73 years old.
Born in Greenwood, Ark., on June 1, 1941, Kemp played guitar for George Jones and Patsy Cline and was a prolific songwriter; his material was recorded by artists such as Ernest Tubb and Elvis Costello, among others. Kemp penned some of country's most classic tunes, including Johnny Cash's "One Piece at a Time" and Jones' "Love Bug."
Kemp began his career in country music as a regular on a weekend country television show, appearing with some of country's heavy hitters. In 1965, he was introduced to Jones by a friend; the singer then ended up recording "Love Bug," which hit No. 6 on the charts and featured Kemp on guitar, as well as "I Made Her That Way."
Conway Twitty recorded a version of "I Made Her That Way" for his 1966 album Look Into My Teardrops and also recorded Kemp's "Image of Me," which made it to the Top 10 in 1968. After the success of "Image of Me," Twitty recorded a number of other Kemp songs, including "Next in Line," "Darling, You Know I Wouldn't Lie," "Me and My Neighbor" and "That's When She Started to Stop Loving You."
However, Cash's "One Piece at a Time" may be Kemp's most well-known claim to fame, with the story song hitting the top spot on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart in 1976.
Through the years, Kemp also worked to maintain a recording career. His biggest hit as an artist, "Honky Tonk Wine," was penned by Mack Vickery and hit No. 17 in 1973. He continued writing in the 1980s and '90s, joining forces with Vickery for George Strait's "The Fireman" in 1984 -- Strait also recorded his own version of "Love Bug" and several other Kemp tunes -- and Ricky Van Shelton's cover of "I'll Leave This World Loving You."
Kemp is survived by his wife Patsy, a son, two daughters, seven of his nine siblings, 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. The family is holding a visitation beginning at 10AM on March 12 at Anderson and Son Funeral Home and Memorial Park in East Lafayette, Tenn., with a graveside service following at 2PM.
The Boot extends our sympathies to Kemp's loved ones.
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