Harley Allen, one of country music's most respected songwriters, passed away early this morning (Wednesday, March 30) at the age of 55 after a long battle with lung cancer. Allen was released from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon and passed peacefully at home with his family by his side.

At a young age, Allen developed his love and passion for music, as he was the son of bluegrass singer Red Allen. Upon moving to Nashville, Allen signed his first publishing deal with Ten Ten Music. Allen was known for his unique perspective and flare for the sound of country tradition in the songs he wrote.

Throughout his songwriting career, Allen had numerous cuts by some of the hottest acts, including Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley, Gary Allan, Garth Brooks, Josh Turner, Daryle Singletary, Sammy Kershaw, Hal Ketchum, Joe Diffie, Mark Wills and more. Some of his charted hits include Joe Nichols' 'I'll Wait for You,' Darryl Worley's 'Awful, Beautiful Life,' Blake Shelton's 'The Baby' and John Michael Montgomery's 'The Little Girl.'

Allen leaves behind his wife Debbie Nims, son Aaron, and daughters Katie and Maggie. A celebration of Allen's life will take place in coming days.