Felice Bryant, who co-wrote the Everly Brothers' "Wake Up Little Susie" and "Bye Bye Love," and Buddy Holly's "Raining in My Heart," died today (April 22) at her home in Gatlinburg, Tenn., performing
Felice Bryant, who co-wrote the Everly Brothers' "Wake Up Little Susie" and "Bye Bye Love," and Buddy Holly's "Raining in My Heart," died today (April 22) at her home in Gatlinburg, Tenn., performing rights organization BMI said. She was 77.
Bryant, who collaborated with her husband, Boudleaux Bryant, on some of the most popular songs in rock'n'roll and country music, had been diagnosed with cancer, a BMI spokesperson said. Boudleaux Bryant died in 1987 at age 67.
It has been estimated the 800 recorded titles written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant sold more than half a billion copies worldwide, the spokesperson said. They were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1991.
Felice Bryant was born Matilda Genevieve Scaduto on Aug. 7, 1925, in Milwaukee. As a child she composed lyrics to traditional Italian tunes, and in her teens sang in and directed shows at the local USO. In 1945, while working as an elevator attendant at Milwaukee's Schroeder Hotel, she struck up a conversation with a visiting musician from Georgia. She and Boudleaux Bryant eloped two days later.
The couple's first hit was "Country Boy" by Grand Ole Opry newcomer Little Jimmy Dickens in June 1949. The Bryants moved to Nashville in 1950 and are generally considered the first people to come to the country music capital to make their living solely as songwriters.
They had a string of country singles for Dickens ("Out Behind the Barn," "I'm Little but I'm Loud"), Carl Smith ("Hey Joe" -- also a pop hit for Frankie Laine), "It's a Lovely, Lovely World," "This Orchid Means the End"), Eddy Arnold ("The Richest Man in the World," "I've Been Thinkin"'), and Jim Reeves ("Blue Boy").
Felice Bryant usually collaborated with her husband, but earned a huge hit on her own with "We Could," which was recorded by Dickens, Jim Reeves, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Kitty Wells, George Morgan, the Louvin Brothers, Charley Pride, Al Martino, and John Prine.
In 1957, the Bryants scored two No. 1 pop hits with "Bye Bye Love" and "Wake Up Little Susie." The Bryants provided the Everlys with virtually all their early hits, including the Boudleaux/Felice co-writes "Problems," "Poor Jenny," and "Take a Message to Mary."
"All I Have To Do Is Dream," "Devoted to You" and "Love Hurts" were credited solely to Boudleaux. "Raining in My Heart," first offered to the Everlys, was passed on to Buddy Holly and recorded at his final session in 1958.
Felice Bryant's survivors include two sons, four grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and a sister.
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