Prolific songwriter Baker Knight, whose hits were recorded by stars ranging from Elvis Presley to Ricky Nelson, Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, has died at age 72.
From the 1950s to the 1970s, Knight wrote almost 1,000 songs. More than 40 singers recorded his tunes, which include the 1970 Presley hit “The Wonder of You” and Martin’s “Somewhere There’s a Someone” and “That Old Time Feelin’.” Nelson and McCartney sang the same Knight hit, “Lonesome Town,” decades apart.
Perry Como, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr. and Mickey Gilley also recorded some of Knight’s songs.
Born Thomas Baker Knight Jr., he died last Wednesday of natural causes at his home in Birmingham, Ala. according to his daughter, Tuesday Knight.
Knight went to Los Angeles in 1958 and met Nelson through a mutual friend. Within six months, Nelson’s version of “Lonesome Town,” a ballad about being lonely in Hollywood, was a top 10 hit on the Billboard Pop Singles chart, as was its flip side, “I Got a Feeling,” another Knight tune. In all, Nelson recorded 21 Knight originals.
Knight learned to play guitar while in the Air Force. He formed a rock band, Baker Knight and the Knightmares, whose height of fame was opening for country stars Carl Perkins and Conway Twitty in 1956.
After the band split up, Knight moved to Los Angeles for a movie role that never materialized. He returned to Birmingham in 1985 and began to suffer from agoraphobia and a condition similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, which put his songwriting career on hold.
Knight is survived by his daughter and a son, Thomas Baker Knight.
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