‘Always on My Mind’ Songwriter Wayne Carson Dead at 72
Grammy-winning songwriter and producer Wayne Carson, best known for co-writing "Always on My Mind," has passed away at the age of 72.
According to USA Today, Carson had been suffering from multiple health issues, including congestive heart failure, COPD, diabetes and gallstones, and had been in hospice care for the last month. He died Monday (July 20), his wife, Wyndi Harp Head, confirmed to the Springfield News-Leader.
Carson was born in Denver, Colo., to professional musicians who then moved to Springfield, Mo. to work at radio station KWTO. Carson began playing guitar by age 14 after hearing a Merle Travis record. He toured with multiple bands early in his career, moving around between Denver and Nashville, then back to Springfield, where he started working with music publisher/promoter Si Siman.
The young songwriter scored his first hit with "Somebody Like You," which reached No. 1 when Eddy Arnold cut it in 1966. He landed further hits with "The Letter," which was first recorded by the Box Tops, then Joe Cocker, "No Love at All" by B.J. Thomas and "Who's Julie," which became Mel Tillis' first Top 10 single. But Carson was undoubtedly best known for "Always on My Mind," which was immortalized on record by both Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson.
Presley's version came first, landing him a Top 20 hit in both country and pop in 1972, according to Billboard. A decade later, Nelson's recording reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart, and No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song won Grammy awards in 1983 for Song of the Year and Best Country Song, and took home the CMA award for Song of the Year in both 1982 and 1983.
Conway Twitty, the Beach Boys and Tina Turner were among the many other artists who recorded Carson's songs over the years. The songwriter and producer was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 1997. He is survived by his wife and son. Funeral services are pending at Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens in Nashville.
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