Hugh X. Lewis, Country Singer-Songwriter, Dead at 90

by Jennifer Shea
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Country singer-songwriter Hugh X. Lewis died on Dec. 29, 2020 at age 90. News of his death came out today.

Hugh X. Lewis Went from Coal Mines to Country Success

The musician wrote multiple chart-topping hit songs in the 1960s, Taste of Country reports. Besides writing songs, he also got a recording contract himself with Kapp Records and went on to release five major-label records. Fifteen of those songs charted, but none of them cracked the Top 20.

Lewis was born in Kentucky and spent his young adulthood working in coal mines to support himself while he pursued a country music career. During the early years of his career, he won a talent competition at WLW in Cincinnati, went on a local TV show in Tennessee and worked the Saturday Night Jamboree radio show for WSAZ in West Virginia, per Music Row.

In 1963, at age 33, he moved to Nashville. Once there, he became a staff songwriter for Cedarwood Music. Grand Ole Opry manager Jim Denny and singer Webb Pierce had co-founded the publishing company together.

His songwriting career took off after he wrote a song called “B.J. the DJ” for Stonewall Jackson, which went on to become a No. 1 hit. He followed that up with “Take My Ring Off Your Finger” for Carl Smith, which made the Top 20. 

Over the next few years, the singers recording his songs included Lynn Anderson, Jim Ed Brown, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jimmy C. Newman, Charley Pride, Kitty Wells, Mac Wiseman and others.

A Multifaceted Career

As his career gained momentum, Lewis branched off into acting in television and film. He hosted a syndicated weekly television show, “Hugh X. Lewis Country Club.” And he appeared in a smattering of B movies – “Forty Acre Feud,” “Gold Guitar” and “Cotton Pickin’ Chicken Pickers.” He also bought a nightclub in Nashville’s Printer’s Alley.

Lewis retired in 1984 at age 54. But he couldn’t stay on the sidelines for long. He returned to the music business four years later to get involved in gospel and Christian music. In 2017, he took up hosting a gospel radio show titled “The Christian Country Store.”

The musician became a member of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame. He also appears in the Walkway of Stars in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Sadly, Lewis’s two sons, Lance and Monty, die before him. But he is survived by his wife of 69 years, Anna Mae Lewis, and his daughter Saundra Taylor. He is also survived by a grandson, granddaughter and two great-grandchildren. 

Outsider.com