Tune into "Dark Side of the Highway" this Sunday (July 18) for a special memorial tribute to legendary country songrwriter Hank Cochran...
Hank Cochran (left) and Willie Nelson (right)
Garland Perry "Hank" Cochran (b. August 2, 1935 - d. July 15, 2010) was an American country music singer and songwriter. Starting in the 1960s, Cochran has been a prolific songwriter in the genre, including major hits by Patsy Cline, Ray Price, Eddy Arnold, and others. Cochran was also a recording artist between 1962 and 1980, charting seven times on the Billboard country charts, with his highest solo peak being the #20 "Sally Was a Good Old Girl."
Born during the Great Depression in Isola, Mississippi, he contracted pneumonia, whooping cough, measles and mumps all about the same time at age 2. The doctor didn't think that he would survive. His parents divorced when he was 9, he moved with his father to Memphis, Tennessee, but then went to an orphange. He was sent to live with his grandparents, in Waynesboro, Mississippi, after he had run away from the orphanage twice. His uncle Otis Cochran taught him how to play the guitar as the pair hitchhiked from Mississippi to southeastern New Mexico to work in the oilfields.
After returning to Mississippi in his teens, he went to California and picked olives. While there he formed The Cochran Brothers, a duo with un-related Eddie Cochran (later of "Summertime Blues" fame).
At age 24 he moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1960, and teamed up with Harlan Howard to write "I Fall to Pieces" that became a major hit for Patsy Cline (recorded November 16, 1960), reaching #1 on the Billboard country charts and #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 (chart for all music categories). Cline also recorded Cochran's "She's Got You" (recorded December 17, 1961; which was another major hit, #1 on the country charts and #14 on the Hot 100), and "Why Can't He Be You" (recorded September 5, 1962).
In 1960 he was on a date at a movie theater when the film inspired him, he had to leave the theater right away, and by the time he reached home fifteen minutes later he had composed "Make the World Go Away". A song that Ray Price would record and reach #2 on the Billboard country carts in 1963, and then Eddy Arnold would make his signature hit in 1964, reaching #1 on the country charts and #6 on the overall Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1965 (his highest rated song ever). Arnold would also record the song "I Want to Go with You".
Cochran wrote several hit songs sung by Burl Ives("A Little Bitty Tear", "It's Just My Funny Way of Laughin'", "The Same Old Hurt"). He also wrote songs for George Strait ("The Chair" with Dean Dillon and "Ocean Front Property" with Dillon and Royce Porter), Merle Haggard ("It's Not Love (But It's Not Bad)"), "Don't You Ever Get Tired (of Hurting Me)", a No. 1 record for Ronnie Milsap, and Mickey Gilley ("That's All That Matters").
While working at publishing company Pamper Music, he used to spend nights playing at a Nashville bar called Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. While there a new guy showed up and Cochran was amazed, he then encouraged management to sign the young songwriter, Willie Nelson, giving Nelson a raise that was coming to him at the time.
He had cancerous tumors surgically removed from his pancreas and lymph node at a Nashville Hospital in July 2008. The doctors expect Cochran to make a full recovery as the diagnosis was made very early.
Cochran had a grapefruit-sized aortic aneurysm removed at a Nashville hospital in April 2010 and was reported as tired but in good spirits. He passed away on July 15th, 2010.
Cochran had been married five times, his last with wife Suzi has been since 1982.