Country Music Hall of Fame Member Tom T. Hall Dead at 85
Tom T. Hall, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, died on Friday (Aug. 20). He was 85 years old.
Long known to fans as "The Storyteller" due to his narrative songwriting style, Hall's classics include "I Like Beer," "Ballad of Forty Dollars," "A Week in Country Jail" and "(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine." He also wrote a number of songs that went on to be hits for other artists, including Jeannie C. Riley's "Harper Valley PTA" and Alan Jackson's "Little Bitty."
Among the songs penned by Hall is "That's How I Got to Memphis," which has been recorded by a slew of performers including Bobby Bare, Rosanne Cash, Eric Church, Solomon Burke, Bill Haley and Buddy Miller.
A native of Olive Hill, Ky., Hall was born on May 25, 1936. He served in the Army, during which time he performed on Armed Forces Radio, with sets including comedic original material written about his Army experience. After returning to civilian life, he became a radio DJ on West Virginia and Kentucky stations, but his big break as a songwriter came when Grand Ole Opry star and Cajun and country singer-songwriter Jimmy C. Newman cut his song, "DJ for a Day."
Hall moved to Nashville and began writing songs for the likes of Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and Waylon Jennings. Within a decade, Reilly's 1968 rendition of "Harper Valley PTA" would top charts and become a crossover success, cementing Hall's status as an in-demand country songwriter. Soon, he'd add the title of "country star" to his resume, using the momentum behind his songwriting success into a career that included a handful of No. 1 country radio hits.
The Tennesseean reports that Hall died at his home in Franklin, Tenn., on Friday, according to his son, Dean Hall. No cause of death or memorial plans are immediately available.