Chuck Pyle, also known as "Zen Cowboy," passed away on Friday evening (Nov. 6) at the age of 70.

The singer-songwriter died unexpectedly, according to a Facebook announcement from his longtime manager of 17 years. Pyle was at his historic cabin in Palmer Lake, Colo., when he passed.

Pyle was born on Jan. 28, 1945, and was raised in Newton, Iowa. He sang in the town's chorus, and when Pyle reached the junior high chorus, his instructor asked him to form a trio with two classmates, leading to Pyle's first-ever show at the Iowa Farm Bureau.

Pyle moved to Colorado in 1965 and was an inspector for Routt Country Engineering in Steamboat Springs. However, when he realized that he could make more money singing and playing music, he pursued it -- and never looked back. Pyle was especially inspired by Michael Martin Murphey, and upon seeing him perform in 1970, Pyle decided to become a songwriter.

Pyle's career spans more than 40 years, and his style of guitar playing, known as “Chuck Pyle Finger-Style,” was unique: He plucked the bass notes with his thumb and used his first three fingers to play the melody. That style, along with his vocal abilities and songwriting talents, made Pyle well known in country music songwriting circles. Artists such as Chris LeDoux, Jerry Jeff Walker, John Denver, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Suzy Bogguss, Owen Temple, Gary P. Nunn and others recorded songs written by Pyle; "Cadillac Cowboy" and "Jaded Lover" are two of the most popular songs that he wrote.

Much of Pyle's music was inspired by the gorgeous Colorado scenery; he also wrote the theme song to PBS's Spirit of Colorado and sang at the opening sessions of the Colorado Legislature. In addition, Pyle played at New Thought churches around the country beginning in 1986 and was a favorite of philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gate.

In his four-decade career, Pyle released 13 albums. His most recent project was Cover Stories, released in 2015, which features covers of 12 songs by songwriters that he admired.

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