Blackwell, who also wrote songs recorded by The Fleetwoods, Conway Twitty and David Frizzell, died May 23 at 84.
Songwriter Dewayne Blackwell, who, with Earl Bud Lee, wrote “Friends in Low Places,” the rowdy standard that catapulted Garth Brooks to stardom 30 years ago, died Sunday (May 23), Mark Ford, executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, confirmed to Billboard. The Hall inducted Blackwell, 84, in 2017 for penning “Friends,” as well as pop hit “Mr. Blue,” which The Fleetwoods took to No. 1 in 1959, and country staples “Honkytonk Man” by Marty Robbins and David Frizzell’s “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home.” Acts ranging from Roy Orbison to Bobby Vinton, The Everly Brothers and Conway Twitty cut Blackwell's songs.
“Friends in Low Places” was the first single from Brooks’ 1990 album, No Fences, which has been certified by the RIAA for sales of 18 million units in the U.S. But “Friends” wasn’t the first Blackwell song Brooks released. That would be the sly “Nobody Gets Off In This Town,” an album track co-written with Larry Bastian on Brooks’ 1989 self-titled debut. Brooks also covered “Mr. Blue” on No Fences.
Brooks shares with Billboard how “Friends” changed his life, and remembers Blackwell’s unique writing style.