Mark Gray, a former member of Exile and the songwriter behind Alabama's No. 1 hits "The Closer You Get" and "Take Me Down," died on Dec. 2. He was 64.

Gray got his start singing gospel music in church as a boy in Mississippi and was later discovered by the Oak Ridge Boys. The group convinced him to move to Nashville, where he began writing for their publishing company, eventually joining them on tour as a backing singer.

One of Gray's demos was heard by Mike Chapman, who was producing Exile in the late '70s. Liking what he heard, Chapman invited Gray to join the band. The singer was a member of Exile from 1979 to '82, all the while he continued to write songs. Some of those songs would hit the top of the charts — like Alabama's "The Closer You Get" — as well as Fricke's 1982 hit "It Ain't Easy Being Easy."

Upon his departure from Exile, Gray saw success of his own as a solo artist. He signed to Columbia Records, where he had five Top 10 hits: "Left Side of the Bed," "If All the Magic Is Gone," "Diamonds in the Dust" and his highest-charting record, "Sometimes When We Touch," a duet with Tammy Wynettte.

CMT reports that the video for "Left Side of the Bed" marks one of the genre's first music videos to be filmed as a mini-movie. The video for the song ran over nine minutes long.

Funeral services are scheduled for Monday (Dec. 5) in Lebanon, Tenn. Following services, Gray will be buried in Learned, Miss.

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