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Producer and Songwriter Nelson Larkin Dead at 70

Nelson Larkin
Photo of Nelson Larkin (center) Courtesy of

Veteran country music producer and songwriter Nelson Larkin died in his home in Brentwood, Tenn. on Monday (Nov. 18). The 70-year-old is best known as the man behind many of Earl Thomas Conley’s most memorable albums. He also penned hits for Tracy Lawrence and Billy Joe Royal.

Royal’s Top 5 hits ‘I’ll Pin a Note on Your Pillow’ and ‘Love Has No Right’ came from Larkin’s pen. The songwriter also helped with ‘Somebody Paints the Wall’ for Lawrence, plus album cuts for others like Toby Keith. In addition, Larkin co-produced Keith’s first three albums, ‘Toby Keith (1993),’ ‘Boomtown (1994)’ and ‘Blue Moon.’ But he’s best known for his work with Conley — the two would record 18 Top 10 singles (including 16 that went to No. 1) together.

Larkin was just as successful as a record label executive. He founded Sunbird Records, the label that turned Conley’s career around. Later he would help open the Nashville branch of Atlantic Records, which would launch the careers of Lawrence and John Michael Montgomery. Larkin’s career in Nashville began in 1972 when he and his wife Mary moved to town. AnĀ obituary in the Tennessean points out that he was the first producer of any genre to earn four No. 1 singles off the same album.

Larkin’s memorial service is set for 3PM on Thursday (Nov. 21) at the Brentwood Methodist Church. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, two daughters and three granddaughters.

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