Country legend Jack Greene has passed away. The 83-year-old entertainer, who was the first CMA Male Vocalist of the Year and earned the nickname "the Jolly Green Giant," died on Thursday (March 14) after a battle with Alzheimer's.

Greene got his start in country music in his hometown of Maryville, Tenn., where he played on local radio station WGAP-AM as a teenager. He performed with a string of bands in Atlanta before hiring on with Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours as a drummer and singer in 1962. According to USA Today, Greene -- who had learned about diesel motors while serving in the Army -- also repaired the group's tour bus as part of his duties.

Greene scored a solo deal with Decca Records after one of the tracks he sang with Tubb, titled 'The Last Letter,' got the attention of label head Owen Bradley, one of the most influential producers in country music. His single 'There Goes My Everything' launched him to solo stardom, landing at No. 1 for seven weeks, and earning him Male Vocalist, Single and Album of the Year at the first-ever CMA Awards in 1967.

The next few years brought a run of meteoric success that included additional No. 1 hits 'You Are My Treasure, 'Until My Dreams Come True' and 'Statue of a Fool,' which would go on to become one of his signature hits along with 'There Goes My Everything.' He also recorded a string of successful duets with Jeannie Seely, with whom he toured extensively in the early and mid-'70s.

His commercial success cooled considerably toward the end of the '70s, but Greene continued to record and appear on the Grand Ole Opry, where he had been a member since 1967, until he retired in 2011. He sang 'There Goes My Everything ' at his final Opry performance on Dec. 16, 2011.

Country stars like Charlie Daniels, Sunny Sweeney and Chris Young expressed their condolences and thoughts on the singer via Twitter last night and this morning. "Very sad to hear about the passing of Jack Green," Blake Shelton tweeted. "He and I performed his song 'Statue of a Fool' at the Opry years ago. True hero."

Listen to Jack Greene Sing 'There Goes My Everything'

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