Opry veteran's biggest hits included the No. 1s "There Goes My Everything," "All the Time" and "Statue of a Fool"
Jack Greene, one of country music's most distinctive song stylists of the 1960s, died Thursday at home in Nashville of complications from Alzheimer's disease. The longtime Grand Ole Opry star (a member since 1967) was 83.
Greene was born January 7, 1930 in Maryville, TN. Greene moved to Atlanta in the early 1950s, forming his own band, The Peach Tree Boys. He came back to Tennessee by the end of the decade, settling in Nashville. In 1961, a chance meeting with Ernest Tubb led him to be invited to join his band, where he served as a drummer (and sometimes guitarist). Greene admitted to taking a lot of mental notes watching the Hall of Famer. "I watched him perform for five years, but also watching him handle the public," Greene recalled in a 1997 interview. "All of those things, he taught me. The fans is the most important item in your life."
Playing with Tubb led to his voice being included on several of the singer's Decca albums. One cut that gained him notable attention was his version of Rex Griffin's "The Last Letter." Greene signed his own contract with his boss's label, Decca, hitting the singles chart for the first time on Christmas Day 1965 with "Ever Since My Baby Went Away." It would be almost a year until he reappeared on the charts, but his next hit would put his name in the history book for good.
"There Goes My Everything," hit the charts in October 1966, and spent seven weeks at No. 1. The success of the song would net him a trio of awards at the inaugural Country Music Association Awards in 1967 – Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year (There Goes My Everything), and Single of the Year. Dallas Frazier, the writer of the song, also made history by becoming the first winner of the CMA Song of the Year award. The night was one that he would never forget. "I was just amazed at winning three awards with all the competition back at that time, like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. It was amazing," the singer stated.
Greene -- who joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1967 -- remained a chart fixture throughout the decade. He topped the chart on four other occasions - "All The Time," "You Are My Treasure," "Until My Dreams Come True," and 1969's "Statue Of A Fool." He also recorded a trio of hits with Jeannie Seely -- with the biggest being "Wish I Didn't Have To Miss You," which became his last release to make the top ten, from early 1970.
Though Greene's success on the charts slowed somewhat in the new decade, he remained signed to the Decca / MCA roster through 1975. His next label affiliation was with Frontline Records, for which he mounted a comeback of sorts with "Yours For The Taking," which hit No. 28 in 1980. That would prove to be his final top-40 Billboard single, though he would chart through 1984.
Greene remained a favorite on the road, as well as at the Opry. He would record from time to time, releasing his final album in 2010 titled Precious Memories, Treasured Friends, a duets album that featured collaborations with artists such as Lorrie Morgan and George Jones.
When recalling his success, Greene gave a lot of credit to some advice from his producer at Decca, the legendary Owen Bradley. "Owen always told me 'Son, it's the song.' I think we had some great songs to work with, from great songwriters like Dallas Frazier, and Owen knew good songs. When you have a big hit, your next record has to be just as good. Some people forget that. They want to start doing all songs that they have written, and sometimes, they're not as great. You've got to have the song."
Funeral arrangements are pending.
- Country