Producer Billy Sherrill Dead at 78
Country Music Hall of Famer Billy Sherrill has passed away after a brief illness. The legendary producer, arranger and musician died at home Tuesday morning (Aug. 4), his daughter confirms to Nashville's The Tennessean newspaper. He was 78 years old.
Born in 1935 in Alabama, Sherrill's got his earliest musical experiences playing piano at revivals conducted by his father, an evangelist. He moved to Nashville in 1962, after Sam Phillips at Sun Records hired him as a producer-engineer.
In 1963 he began producing for Epic Records, and in 1966 David Houston hit No. 1 for nine weeks on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart with "Almost Persuaded," which Sherrill produced and co-wrote. The song won Grammys for Best Country and Western Song, Best Country and Western Recording and Best Country and Western Vocal Performance: Male.
Sherrill went on to a stellar career that included signing Tammy Wynette to Epic, where he produced a string of classic hits on the singer including "Stand by Your Man," her signature song. Sherrill produced more than 30 of Wynette's hits, and he also worked extensively with George Jones, producing songs like "Yesterday's Wine," "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes" and "He Stopped Loving Her Today," which many consider the greatest country recording of all time.
The iconic producer helped to pioneer the "countrypolitan" sound, layering classical strings and piano sounds along with more traditional country instrumentation for a smooth, commercial sound. He went on to work with a long list of artists that included Charlie Rich, Johnny Paycheck, Shelby Lynne, Elvis Costello and Ray Charles. Sherrill was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2008, and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
He is survived by Charlene, his wife of 54 years, his daughter Catherine Lale and her husband George and two grandchildren, Samantha and Matthew. No cause of death has been released. Funeral arrangements are pending.
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