Hank Cochran, RIP
Let me clip publicist Martha Moore’s official press release first, and then, below, I’ll add a bit of my own.
Songwriting Legend Hank Cochran Passes Away
Last night, Jamey Johnson, Billy Ray Cyrus and Buddy Cannon dropped by to sing songs with Hank, and this morning the legendary songwriter was surrounded by family and friends when he passed away at his Hendersonville, Tennessee home. A private, family memorial will be held in the near future, and a public service will follow. Details will be forthcoming.
The family asks that you respect their privacy at this time and, in lieu of flowers, request those wishing to honor Hank make donations to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation.
Hank was inducted in to the Nashville Songwriters Association International Hall of Fame by unanimous vote in 1974, and was honored by B.M.I. in June 2009 for his six-decade long career of hits, that includes country classics: “I Fall To Pieces,” “Make The World Go Away,” “Ocean Front Property,” “The Chair” and “Don’t You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me.”
If you search the ND archives, you’ll find a Q&A I did with Hank Cochran some years back, out at that same Hendersonville home. I may have the sequence wrong, but it seems like I had actually met him a bit before that, at a Ray Price session on Music Row.
Which is a bit of a story. Ray Price was signed to Justice Records at the time, and the label head Randall Jamail had produced a nice, orchestral album on Ray that was yet to be released. As the story goes in my memory, Ray had a friend who was a lumber baron of some sort. Somehow Ray ended up being loaned an outboard motor or a boat or two outboard motors or some such, and the lumber baron decided his son needed to get into the music business and/or his daughter needed to be a country music star.
So somehow it was decided that Ray Price would record an album for this guy. Since Price was signed to Justice, Jamail produced the sessions at what was then Ocean Way Nashville, an old church. Expensive studio. Expensive session, all around. The album, needless to say, never came out. Or if it did, I’d really love to know about it.
Randall insisted I go on Price’s bus to meet the great man, and then allowed me to sit in part of a session before they broke for dinner. This great frog of a fellow beat me in the door, all Hawaiian shirt and flip flops and skinny white legs, and somehow I gleaned that this was Hank Cochran. He had songs to pitch — directly — to Ray Price, and he was as excited as a teenager, as if he’d never had a hit in his life.
I felt out of place, but, then, I usually do.
But the more I’ve thought about it, the more tickled I am that Hank Cochran, with all those hits and all that money owed to the IRS and all the rest of it, the more tickled I am that he was excited that hot summer afternoon that Ray Price might cut one of his songs, even though it was for a record which would never come out.
I am quite certain I didn’t know nearly enough to elicit a more than passable Q&A with Hank, but he was a nice man, at least to me. And a hell of a songwriter. His health has been rocky, and I’ll pass all possible comments about the presence of Billy Ray Cyrus. Friends are friends, don’t judge.