In Memoriam|

Wayne Carson (born Wayne Carson Head; May 31, 1943 – July 20, 2015), sometimes credited as Wayne Carson Thompson, was an American country musician, songwriter, and record producer. He played percussion, piano, guitar, and bass. His most famous songs as a writer include “Neon Rainbow”, “The Letter”, “Always on My Mind” (written with Mark James and Johnny Christopher), and “Soul Deep”.

Born in Denver, Colorado, his parents, Odie and Olivia Head, used the pseudonym Thompson as performers, and played music professionally. They met in Nebraska while working for radio station KMMJ, moved to Colorado and eventually to Springfield, Missouri to join the KWTO music staff. By then, they were better known by their stage names, “Shorty and Sue”. Shorty Thompson was perhaps best known around the Ozarks as a member of radio and television mainstay the Tall Timber Boys.

Wayne Carson wanted to pick up a guitar when he was about 14, after hearing a recording by Merle Travis. Even so, he was quickly taken by the newer sound of rock ‘n’ roll. He lived in several cities, including Denver, as a young man leading bands; and moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1962. He initially used his parents’ stage name, becoming known and credited as Wayne Carson Thompson, before dropping the last name and adopting the name Wayne Carson.

In the mid-1960s he returned to Springfield, where he began working with music publisher and promoter Si Siman. Together they pitched songs for years, but without success until Siman’s friend and producer Chet Atkins took a liking to a tune called “Somebody Like Me” and wanted to have Eddy Arnold record it. Carson was taken aback when he got a call from Arnold, one of the most successful country acts of all time. “Eddie said, ‘Wayne, I love the song, but it needs another verse’,” Carson recalled. “So I said, ‘Well, the third verse goes like this’ and I just wrote it right there over the phone.” The song became his first number one hit in late 1966, and spent four weeks on top of the country charts.

In 1967, he wrote another major hit, “The Letter”, inspired by several pages of lyrics sent by his father. The song was an international hit for the Box Tops, and later for Joe Cocker and Leon Russell, and was nominated for two Grammys.

Carson’s song “Always on My Mind” won Grammy awards in 1983 for Song of the Year and Best Country Song; in 1982 it reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts. The Country Music Association named it the Song of the Year in 1982 and 1983. Also in 1982, The Nashville Songwriters Association International named it Song of the Year and the Academy of Country Music named it Single of the Year.

In 1997, Carson was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Carson died on July 20, 2015, aged 72, after suffering from various ailments including congestive heart failure.

Notable songs

• “Somebody Like Me” – Eddy Arnold
• “Always On My Mind” – Brenda Lee, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, The Pet Shop Boys, Michael Buble, Juilo Iglesias, The Stylistics, West End Girls, Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson, John Wesley Ryles
• “The Letter” – The Box Tops, The Beach Boys, Joe Cocker featuring Leon Russell, Al Green, Johnny Rivers, The Arbors, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Bobby Darin
• “Keep On” – Bruce Channel
• “Who’s Julie” – Mel Tillis, Joe Simon
• “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)” – Gary Stewart, Wade Hayes
• “Neon Rainbow” – The Box Tops
• “Soul Deep” – The Box Tops, Clarence Carter, Gary U.S. Bonds, Tina Turner, Eddy Arnold, Gin Blossoms
• “The Clown” – Conway Twitty
• “Slide Off Your Satin Sheets” – Johnny Paycheck
• “Whiskey Trip” – Gary Stewart
• “No Love At All” – B.J. Thomas, Glen Campbell
• “Drinkin’ Thing” – Gary Stewart, Wade Hayes
• “Barstool Mountain” – Moe Bandy, Wayne Carson
• “Carryin’ On” – Tina Turner (aka “Cussin’ Cryin’ and Carryin’ On – Ike & Tina Turner)
• “You Got What You Wanted” – Ike & Tina Turner
• “That’s The Only Way To Say Good Morning” – Ray Price
• “A Horse Called Music” – Willie Nelson, Randy Travis
• “Dog Day Afternoon” – Shelby Lynne
• “I See the Want To in Your Eyes” – Conway Twitty, Gary Stewart
• “(Don’t Let The Sun Set On You In) Tulsa” – Waylon Jennings
• “Something’s Wrong In California” – Waylon Jennings
• “I Want Some More” – Dan Auerbach, Jon & Robin and the In Crowd
• “I Couldn’t Spell !!*@!” – Sam The Sham & the Pharaohs, Homer & Jethro
• “Hollywood” – Alabama
• “Instant Reaction” – Clarence Carter, Bruce Channel
• “Mr Bus Driver” – Bruce Channel
• “Things Go Better With You” – The April Fools
• “You Won’t Be There” – The April Fools
• “Do It Again a Little Bit Slower” – Jon & Robin and the In Crowd
• “Dr Jon (the Medicine Man)” – Jon & Robin and the In Crowd
• “Honey Bee” – Robin of Jon & Robin
• “The Grapes in Mary’s Vineyard” – Claude King aka The Grapes in Martha’s Vineyard
• “Sandman” – B. J. Thomas, The Box Tops

“The Letter”, “Neon Rainbow” and “Soul Deep” were all Top 40 hits for the Box Tops; “The Letter” reached No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1967; “Do It Again Just A Little Bit Slower” was a top 20 pop hit in 1967.

Grammy Award for Song of the Year (1980s)

1980: Kenny Loggins & Michael McDonald – “What a Fool Believes”
1981: Christopher Cross – “Sailing”
1982: Donna Weiss & Jackie DeShannon – “Bette Davis Eyes”
1983: Johnny Christopher, Mark James & Wayne Carson – “Always on My Mind”
1984: Sting – “Every Breath You Take”
1985: Graham Lyle & Terry Britten – “What’s Love Got to Do with It”
1986: Michael Jackson & Lionel Richie – “We Are the World”
1987: Burt Bacharach & Carole Bayer Sager – “That’s What Friends Are For”
1988: James Horner, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil – “Somewhere Out There”
1989: Bobby McFerrin – “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”


* * * * *

Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…

July 2015

23: Doug Rowe, New Zealand musician and singer (The Flying Circus).

22: Paul Freeman, 79, American music conductor, founder of Chicago Sinfonietta.

21: Theodore Bikel, 91, Austrian-born American actor (The Defiant Ones, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof), folk singer and composer; Robert Broberg, 75, Swedish singer and songwriter, Parkinson’s disease.

20: Wayne Carson, 72, American songwriter (“The Letter”, “Always on My Mind”, “Neon Rainbow”); Dieter Moebius, 71, Swiss-German electronic musician (Cluster, Harmonia, Moebius & Plank).

19: Van Alexander, 100, American big band leader, songwriter-arranger (“A-Tisket, A-Tasket”), film and television composer (I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched), heart failure; Kyoko, Japanese musician and singer (OOIOO); Carmino Ravosa, 85, American composer and lyricist; Václav Snítil (cs), 87, Czech violinist and teacher.

18: Dave Black, 62, British musician (Goldie), struck by train; Buddy Buie, 74, American songwriter (“Spooky”, “Traces”), heart attack.

17: Banza Stone, 43, Tanzanian dancehall singer, brain infection and pneumonia; John Taylor, 72, British jazz pianist, heart attack.

16: V. Ramakrishna, 67, Indian playback singer and film scorer, cancer.

15: Alan Curtis, 80, American harpsichordist, conductor and scholar; Howard Rumsey, 97, American jazz double bassist.

14: Mansour Nariman, 80, Iranian oud player; Franz Ferdinand Nentwig, 85, German opera baritone; Dave Somerville, 81, Canadian-American singer (The Diamonds), cancer; M. S. Viswanathan, 87, Indian music composer and film scorer.

From http://www.wikipedia.com

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