Grammy-Nominated Songwriter Jim Femino Dead at 69: ‘He Was a Great Man’
Jim Femino, an influential singer-songwriter, producer and publisher in Nashville's country music scene, has died. Femino's son, Art Femino, confirms his father's death on Tuesday (Aug. 3) to Taste of Country. He was 69 years old.
Femino died after suffering his tenth heart attack in recent years, Art Femino says. The songwriter, who devoted much of his life to a publishing and consulting business called Songstarters! Inc., had struggled with his health increasingly over the last two years. He died in the hospital while undergoing exploratory surgery to check for a blockage after checking in due to symptoms similar to those he'd experienced previously.
In addition to his heart problems, Femino had suffered kidney failure in recent years, and had been undergoing dialysis three days each week.
"It was amazing that with all this going on, he was still writing songs, he was still calling people, joking, hanging out with myself, my wife and his grandkids," Art Femino reflects. "Just having a good old time and loving life, like he always did."
"He was a great man," the younger Femino adds. "He always lit up the room. I know a lot of people say that, but I truly mean it, and anybody that hears this and knows him will say, 'Hell yeah, he did.' He always made everybody feel good. His whole thing about life was, believe in God, make good music and just live life to the fullest and always smile ... I just want to spread his word to always spread peace and love. There's no time for hate. Go make some great music and have a great time with life, and always put family first."
Originally hailing from Pennsylvania, Femino initially pursued a career as a country and soul artist before coming to Nashville in 1991, determined to establish a career as a country music hitmaker. According to the official biography on his website, he landed cuts from a Who's Who of country music artists that included Toby Keith, Ronnie Milsap, Craig Morgan, John Michael Montgomery, Steve Azar and more.
His song "Just Got Started Lovin' You," which James Otto recorded and released in 2007, reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart. It also earned a Grammy nomination for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.
He counted Otto, the members of Parmalee, Vince Gill and more as close friends and was a well-known friend and mentor to many up-and-coming songwriters.
"If you're a songwriter in Nashville and don't know Jim Femino, it would be amazing," Art Femino says. "He was a friend and a co-worker and a companion to everybody on Music Row and in the country music scene."
Femino offered a range of consulting and mentoring sessions, business education and other services via his website, and he also maintained a YouTube channel, where he would share stripped-down acoustic renditions of his songs.
Femino was preceded in death by his wife, Leslie, who died just weeks before him on June 14 after battling cancer. His funeral arrangements are pending and have not been announced.