'Hey There Lonely Girl' Lyricist Earl Shuman Dies at 95

Courtesy Photo
Earl Shuman

Earl Shuman, whose lyrics can be heard on dozens of songs recorded by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald and Tom Jones, among others, and who nearly topped the Hot 100 in 1970 with the lush track "Hey There Lonely Girl," died on Feb. 13 at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He was 95.

The Boston native had a hand in over 400 published songs during his career, including "Banjos Back in Town" (Bing Crosby, Teresa Brewer), "I Am" (Tony Bennett, B.B. King), "I've Been Here" (Streisand), "Clinging Vine" (Dean Martin, Bobby Vinton) and "Left, Right, Out of Your Heart" (Patti Page). Other artists to have performed his songs include Sammy Davis, Jr., k.d. lang and Patsy Cline.

In the early 1960s he and Leon Carr wrote "Hey There Lonely Boy," cut by Ruby and the Romantics, though it later found success as Eddie Holman's "Hey There Lonely Girl," reaching No. 2 on the Hot 100. Shuman also scored a top ten country hit in the 1950s with Bonnie Lou's version of "Seven Lonely Days," which was subsequently performed by lang, Jean Shepard, Lynn Anderson and others.

His songs have also been heard in several commercials and films, including Shag, Must Love Dogs and Nothing to Lose, and he notably penned the lyrics for the musical adaptation of James Thurber's short story, Secret Life of Walter Mitty. He also worked in publishing, and was instrumental in the success of Meat Loaf's Bat out of Hell album. 

"Earl Shuman is not old school," wrote radio industry expert Sean Ross in the intro of Shuman's autobiography Songs for Sale. "Earl Shuman is mid-century modern."

Shuman enrolled at Yale in the 1940s but interrupted his schooling to serve in World War II in the U.S. Marine Corp. He graduated from the Ivy League school in 1947, then later rejoined the Marines as a Captain to serve during the Korean War. He married his wife, Peggy, in 1956 and is survived by their three children, Cathy, Daniel and Steven.