Garth Brooks’ Collaborator and Nashville Hall of Famer Dewayne Blackwell Dies at 84

by Matthew Wilson
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Legendary songwriter Dewayne Blackwell has passed away. The country music staple died on Sunday, May 23rd. Blackwell was 84-years-old.

Currently, officials haven’t revealed the cause of death.

Blackwell’s best nod to fame was co-penning Garth Brooks‘ hit song “Friends in Low Places” in 1990. He co-wrote the song with Earl Bud Lee. That tune ended up being a big hit for Brooks and the two songwriters. It topped the country music charts. It also won the Single of the Year Award at the CMA and ACM Awards. The song even garnered a Grammy nomination.

In 2017, Blackwell joined other distinguished songwriters in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. It’s an honor that established him among Nashville’s best and brightest.

Dewayne Blackwell’s Career

According to Taste of Country, Blackwell was a Texas native. He was born in Corpus Christi in 1936. Blackwell’s childhood was an early struggle. He grew up in the period of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s to two migrant workers. He was also one of eight children.

To help support his family, Blackwell worked out on farms as a child picking crops. But as a teen, he found a passion for music. At 14, Blackwell started playing music in bars with his siblings. He later dropped out of school and moved to Alaska. He worked as a longshoreman and started writing tunes in his spare time.

In 1959, Blackwell kicked off his career as a songwriter with “Mr. Blue” for the Fleetwoods. It reached No. 1 on the charts. Later several other musicians covered the song including collaborator Garth Brooks and music legend Bob Dylan as well.

While he later moved into country music, Blackwell started a career as a popular pop songwriter in the 1960s and 70s. He wrote for singers including the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Bobby Vee, and others. By the 1980s, Blackwell left pop music behind for country. He found a second career writing for some of the industry’s brightest stars.

He wrote such tunes as Marty Robbins’ “Honkytonk Man,” “Make My Day” by T.G. Sheppard, “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home” by David Frizzell, and also Clint Eastwood and Conway Twitty’s “Saturday Night Special.”

Later Blackwell retired from the industry. He spent his later years in Ajijic, near Lake Chapala in Mexico. By 2003, he opened his own restaurant Senor Zul. In English, the restaurant would be called Mr. Blue after his popular song.

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