Jason Isbell Talks Hal Ketchum’s Death, Says Legend Made ‘Finest Country Album of 1991’

by Jon D. B.
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Fellow country music alum Jason Isbell is speaking out on behalf of Hal Ketchum after the singer and songwriter’s death today.

Tragically, country singer Hal Ketchum passed away at age 67. His wife Andrea confirms the singer/songwriter died today, November 24th, “due to complications of dementia”.

“With great sadness and grief, we announce that Hal passed away peacefully last night at home due to complications of Dementia,” she posts on behalf of her husband. “May his music live on forever in your hearts and bring you peace.”

Now, fellow country musician Jason Isbell is celebrating Ketchum’s life and legacy.

Isbell himself is known for his solo career and his work with his band The 400 Unit. Mostly, however, he’s known as a former member of Drive-By Truckers (for six years). He is also known for his harsh split with said Drive-By Truckers.

Of Ketchum, Isbell says “among many other things, this man made the finest country album of 1991.” The album Isbell is referencing? Past the Point of Rescue.

As his first major-label release and album, Rescue hit courtesy of Curb Records in 1991. Since, it has been certified gold by the RIAA. From it, Hal Ketchum released four chart-topping singles. Each went to the top tiers of the Billboard Hot Country Songs in both ’91 & ’92.

Those chart-toppers were “I know Where Love Lives”, “Past the Point of Rescue”, a cover of “Five O’Clock World”, and of course – “Small Town Saturday Night”.

Country Music Mourns Hal Ketchum

Family of the late Charlie Daniels Band also mourn Ketchum.

We are sad to hear about the passing of Hal Ketchum. Prayers for his family and friends. – Hazel and Charlie Daniels, Jr.,” the family posts to CDB’s Twitter.

Longtime country fans will remember that in 1997, Hal Ketchum joined forces with The Charlie Daniels Band to rerecord the hit song “Long Haired Country Boy”.

As a result, both artists saw a resurgence of fame. The track held a rock & roll grit that fit the country of the time, and fans of both artists loved it.

Jason Isbell’s past in country music, however, is far more tragic. According to the NY Times, Isbell “found fame early and wasn’t ready for it.”

“When he was 22, he [became one of] the Drive-By Truckers, the brilliant and hard-living Alabama band. He quickly wrote several of the group’s signature songs. This includes the title cut of its 2003 album, “Decoration Day.” And a beautiful bummer of a tune called “Goddamn Lonely Love”. He almost as quickly burned out,” the publication goes on to note.

“Some people [become] drunk and become kind of sweet,” Patterson Hood, one of the Drive-By Truckers’ principal singer-songwriters, told the NY Times. “Jason [is not] one of those people.”

Isbell “left” the Truckers in 2007.

Our thoughts are with Ketchum’s family, friends, and fans during this difficult time. He will live on through his phenomenal voice, instrumental talent, and songwriting skills that resulted in a career of beautiful country music.

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