Nashville Songwriter Ted Harris Dead at 78
Ted Harris — whose songs earned him an induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame — has passed away. According to Music Row, Harris died at his home in Lewisburg, Tenn., on Sunday, Nov. 22. He was 78 years old.
Theodore Clifford Harris was born in 1937 and grew up in Lakeland, Florida. He began playing guitar at age 8, and started writing songs by age 12. Harris moved to Nashville at age 20, after a stint working at a local newspaper in Florida.
The aspiring songwriter didn't know anyone in Music City, so he decided to shop his songs to Silver Star, a publishing company owned by his hero, Hank Snow. That paid off with Snow cutting one of Harris' songs, "Chasin' a Rainbow," which hit the Top 10 in 1959. Snow also cut another of Harris' originals, "My Lucky Friend."
Music Row reports that Harris worked in the grocery business during his first seven years in Nashville while he pursued more contacts and cuts, under the tutelage of Snow and another mentor, singer-songwriter and publisher Ted Daffan. He co-founded his own publishing company, Harbot Music Publishing, in 1965, the same year Carl Belew scored a smash hit with another Harris song, "Crystal Chandelier." That song went on to become an evergreen, with subsequent cuts by Louis Armstrong, Dickey Lee, Johnny Russell, Billie Jo Spears, Charley Pride and more.
Harris landed a long string of other classic hits, including “Once,” which became a hit for Ferlin Husky in 1966, and Dottie West's “Paper Mansions" in 1966. "You and Me Against the World” became a hit for Bobby Lord in 1970, and “Here I Go Again” was a hit for Bobby Wright in 1971, with subsequent recordings by Lynn Anderson, Del Reeves and Nat Stuckey. In 1972, Harris earned an astounding 17 SESAC Awards as a songwriter and publisher — a feat which has never been equaled. He would go on to win a total of 87 SESAC Awards, including Country Song of the Year for Pride's 1976 hit, "The Happiness of Having You." He won another SESAC Awards in 1987 for “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (Rules the World),” as recorded by Glen Campbell and Steve Wariner.
Harris was especially notable in the Nashville songwriting community for the fact that he wrote nearly all of his songs by himself, instead of collaborating with a number of other writers as is common in Music City. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1990, and retired in 2001, selling his song publishing catalog to Sony-ATV.
Ted Harris is survived by his wife, Jackie, sons Bradley and Joshua, and three grandchildren. His funeral service took place on Wednesday (Nov. 25) at East Commerce Baptist Church in Lewisburg.
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