Hank Cochran, one of Nashville’s most prominent hit-making songwriters, died July 15 at his Hendersonville, TN, home. He was 74, and had battled cancer for two years.
Born Garland Perry Cochran in Isola, Miss., Cochran was playing guitar and singing from the age of 10. After his parents separated, he lived in a Memphis orphanage before working in the Southwestern oil fields with his uncle.
As a teenager, Cochran moved to Los Angeles, where he began working with an unrelated performer named Eddie Cochran in the duo the Cochran Brothers. The pair recorded some much-prized rockabilly records in 1955-56 and appeared on the local shows “Town Hall Party” and “California Hayride” before splitting up; Eddie Cochran enjoyed a meteoric rock ‘n’ roll career before his death in a 1960 car crash.
Cochran’s big break came after he returned to Nashville in 1960. As a writer for local publisher Pamper Music, he co-wrote Patsy Cline’s 1961 smash “I Fall to Pieces” with Harlan Howard. He went on to co-own Pamper with country star Ray Price, for whom he authored such hits as “Make the World Go Away” and “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me.”
Cochran penned chart records for George Jones, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, Eddy Arnold, Merle Haggard, Vern Gosdin, Keith Whitley and George Strait, among many others. He also recorded several albums of his own material, the most recent of which was “Livin’ For a Song: A Songwriter’s Autobiography” (2002). In 1974 he was unanimously inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Association’s International Hall of Fame.
Cochran is survived by his wife Suzi, three sons and a daughter.