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Sunday 11 December 2016

Hank Cochran

Country and western songwriter who wrote for many artists, including Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline and Elvis Presley

Published 01/08/2010 | 05:00

HANK Cochran, who died on July 15 aged 74, was a prolific writer of country and western songs and had hits with numbers such as I Fall to Pieces; She's Got You; Make the World Go Away; A Little Bitty Tear and Don't Touch Me.

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His own personal favourite, Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurtin' Me, an American number one for Ronnie Milsap in 1989, was covered by many other artists including Ray Price, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Jeannie Seely, Don Gibson, Jack Greene and Bobby Bare.

"People study songs and go over them and all that," said Cochran, "and they tell me that's one of the most well-written songs, but that has nothing to do with why it's my favourite. It's my favourite because it can still cut me up just like the day I wrote it."

While working at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge in Nashville, Cochran discovered the future country star Willie Nelson, whom he quickly persuaded the publishing company he worked for to hire. Nelson went on to record many Cochran compositions, such as Undo the Right, Any Old Arms Won't Do and Can I Sleep in Your Arms?

Garland Perry 'Hank' Cochran was born on August 2, 1935, at Isola, Mississippi. A sickly child, his parents divorced when he was nine years old, and after a spell in an orphanage he was brought up by his grandparents. His grandfather was a preacher who also filed saws for a living. By the age of 10 Hank was playing the guitar and singing in church.

When he was 12, he and an uncle hitchhiked from Mississippi to New Mexico to work in the oilfields for two years, working first as roustabouts, cleaning up after the drillers on the oil rigs, then roughnecking, drilling oil wells.

In his mid-teens he moved to California, working at a department store in Los Angeles, but he was found to be under age and made to attend school.

After winning several amateur talent contests, he formed a rock and roll duo with the guitarist Eddie Cochran (no relation), billed as The Cochran Brothers. When the act disbanded, Eddie Cochran enjoyed fleeting fame as a solo performer (he died in a car accident in April 1960) while Hank Cochran moved to Nashville, writing country and western songs for Pamper Music, a publishing company, for $50 a week.

In 1961, with Harlan Howard, he had his first country chart-topping hit with I Fall to Pieces, recorded by Patsy Cline, and soon had his first hit as a recording artist in his own right with Sally Was a Good Old Girl. Perhaps his best-known song was Make the World Go Away, written in 15 minutes and adopted by the singer Eddy Arnold as his signature tune.

In 1965, Arnold's recording reached number six in the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Cochran's highest-rated song.

He continued to compose prolifically, his songs being recorded by a host of country and western singers; and in 1974, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Association's International Hall of Fame, the only writer to receive a unanimous vote.

Cochran wrote several hit songs for Burl Ives (A Little Bitty Tear, It's Just My Funny Way of Laughin' and The Same Old Hurt); George Strait (The Chair); Merle Haggard (It's Not Love and But It's Not Bad) and Mickey Gilley (That's All That Matters).

Other artists who recorded his songs included Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, Bing Crosby, Emmylou Harris, Dean Martin and Elvis Presley. With Ray Price, Cochran became co-owner of Pamper Music, which was bought by Sony/ATV Tree in 1989.

Hank Cochran married his fifth wife, Suzi, in 1982.

Sunday Independent

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