You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Busbee, Hit Songwriter and Producer, Dies at 43

His credits include Maren Morris' "My Church," Pink's "Try" and Florida Georgia Line's "H.O.L.Y."

Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer Busbee, who’s worked extensively with a wide array of artists ranging from Maren Morris to Pink to Shakira, has died. He was 43.

The news broke in early evening on Sept. 29. Busbee’s real name is Michael James Ryan. He was father to three children, including a just-born baby girl.

According to a friend, Busbee was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer, over the summer and was undergoing treatment.

Busbee had credits on such records as Maren Morris’ “My Church,” Pink’s “Try” and Keith Urban’s “Fighter,” featuring Carrie Underwood.

He had a worldwide publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music and a creative partnership with Red Light Management. His label, Altadena, was under the Warner Records umbrella.

A memo from Warner Records’ co-chairman and CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck and co-chairman and COO Tom Corson sent to staff on Sept. 29 read: “Today we lost busbee, a dear friend, business partner with his company Altadena, and one of the best and brightest creative minds in music. busbee’s kindness and legacy will never be forgotten and our hearts and prayers go out to his family at this very difficult time.”

Warner Chappell’s leadership said of Busbee: “Our hearts are broken by the loss of our beautiful friend. He was an extraordinary human being whose generosity, spirituality and humor inspired everyone around him. An amazingly gifted songwriter, he used his talent, his music, and his love to break down boundaries and bring people together. He left us far too soon. Our deepest condolences go to his wonderful family and all his many friends. We love you.”

Busbee hailed from the Bay Area where he grew up listening to jazz and the Hot AC Christian radio his mother favored. He started playing piano at age seven and took up trombone in early high school. His natural talent brought a college scholarship his way in 1995, but a couple years later, he left and returned home. As Busbee told Ross Golan, host of “And the Writer Is…“, on the May 6 episode of the podcast, he found himself 23 years old and living at home with his mom when he was offered the job of music pastor at a local church. “There’s so much music at church,” Busbee said. “You can feel when a song feels like it’s inspired.”

He moved to Los Angeles in 2000 at 24 to take a stab at a job in the music industry, starting out assisting producers like Eric Valentine (Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” All-American Rejects), who told him that songwriting was his calling.

Busbee spent the rest of his twenties honing his craft and started by writing for many alums of reality singing competitions like “American Idol” and “The X Factor,” including Adam Lambert, Bea Miller, Katharine McPhee, Haley Reinhart, Lauren Alaina, Danny Gokey, Scotty McCreery, Colton Dixon and Chris Rene, among others.

The practice would bring Busbee to Pink, co-writing 2012’s “Try,” which would go on to reach No. 1 on Top 40. Credits on singles by Rascal Flatts followed and Busbee increasingly looked to Nashville as an outlet. Sessions with artists like Lady Antebellum and Florida Georgia Line were also fruitful, but it was Busbee’s work with Maren Morris on her 2016 album “Hero” that would elevate him to hitmaker status. That same year, Keith Urban’s “The Fighter,” with Carrie Underwood, and Florida Georgia Line’s “H.O.L.Y.” were bonafide smashes in the country format.

As Busbee told Golan last Spring: “I still love the amazing challenge of, ‘I’m gonna try and write a Top 40 hit and I’m gonna try and write a country hit and produce all of those.'”

Most recently, Busbee produced 11 of the 15 tracks on Morris’ Grammy-bound “Girl” album, which dropped in March.

Tributes from all over the music industry have been pouring in on social media and beyond. The Jonas Brothers dedicated a song to Busbee at their Tulsa concert.

Read reactions to the news below:

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ross Golan (@rossgolan) on



More Music

  • iHeartRadio Podcast Awards 2020

    iHeartRadio Podcast Awards 2020 Nominees Announced (EXCLUSIVE)

    iHeartMedia announced nominees for the 2020 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards, which return for a second run next January to honor the most entertaining and innovative podcasts of the year across 30 categories. The 10 podcasts nominated for Podcast of the Year are the New York Times’ “The Daily,” “The Joe Rogan Experience,” “Stuff You Should Know,” [...]

  • Honoree Tyler, the Creator attends the

    Tyler, the Creator Talks 'Sensitive' Drake, Supports Solange at 'Bridge-s' Exhibit

    Tyler, the Creator, Dev Hynes (AKA Blood Orange), Syd of The Internet and Lakeith Stanfield were all in attendance for Solange Knowles’ preview of art installation “Bridge-s” at the Getty Center Museum in Los Angeles on Nov. 11. Not even 24 hours after Drake got booed off the stage during Tyler’s two-day Camp Flog Gnaw [...]

  • Young ThugBillboard Hot 100, Day 2,

    Travis Scott Remix Drives Young Thug’s ‘Hot’ to No. 1 on Rolling Stone Top 100

    Driven by a remix featuring Travis Scott, Young Thug’s single “Hot” has roared to the top of the Rolling Stone Top 100 this week. The song racked up more than 20 million audio streams and 3,700 downloads. Also getting a big boost is buzzing artist Arizona Zervas, whose “Roxanne” soared to No. 6 after debuting at [...]


    'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series' Cast Talks New Music (Watch)

    Disney has debuted a preview clip of the upcoming “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” in which the cast discusses how the music of the original movies and 2019’s tunes combine to tell a new tale. Indeed, it’s the start of something new: instead of cheering on Troy Bolton and Gabriella, a next generation [...]

  • Mick Fleetwood to Lead Concert Celebrating

    Mick Fleetwood to Lead All-Star Concert Celebrating Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green Era

    Fleetwood Mac drummer and cofounder Mick Fleetwood today announced an all-star concert honoring the group’s early years of Fleetwood Mac and its founder, Peter Green. Set for February 25 at the London Palladium, Fleetwood has enlisted a stellar cast of musicians to perform, including Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content