Putman found his biggest hit in 1965 with “Green, Green Grass of Home,” originally recorded by Johnny Darrell and widely made popular by Porter Wagoner. The classic would go on to be covered by Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Tom Jones, the Grateful Dead, Roger Miller, and others.
He scored another success with “My Elusive Dreams,” which he co-wrote with Billy Sherrill in 1967. While several versions of the song have been recorded, the most famous is a duet by David Houston and Tammy Wynette. The next year, Wynette recorded his song “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” which became a No. 1 country hit for the singer.
Putman’s “Dumb Blonde” appeared on Dolly Parton’s first album, and was a signature song for the singer early in her career. In 1980, Putman co-wrote “He Stopped Loving Her today” with Bobby Braddock. The song was recorded by George Jones, and would go on to be regarded by many critics as one of the best country songs of all time.
In an interview with Variety shortly before his death, Putman admitted, “Everything I write is pretty sad.” “I believe that touches people of all kinds,” he added. “‘Green Green Grass of Home’ and ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ were people-type songs, not just something that’s gonna be out there one day and gone the next.”