Country music fans were saddened to hear of the recent passing of singer/songwriter Hank Cochran, who died at age 74 in his home near Nashville. Although he was a polished performer, the long-time associate of Willie Nelson is probably best known for writing hit songs for other singers; including Eddy Arnold’s “Make The World Go Away,” Burl Ives’ “A Little Bitty Tear,” and Patsy Cline’s “I Fall To Pieces” (as co-writer).
Garland Perry ‘Hank’ Cochran had a difficult childhood, spending his early years in rural Mississippi and later moving to Memphis where he spent some time in an orphanage. He eventually moved in with his grandparents, but by his teen years he was on the road with his rambling uncle Otis, who taught him guitar while they hitchhiked across the country.
By the 1950s Cochran was based in California, where he worked on building a musical career while earning cash as a farm laborer. He explored rockabilly in those days and at one point teamed up with future rocker Eddie Cochran to form the Cochran Brothers (although the two were not related).
Although the ‘brothers’ did OK, by the end of the decade Hank had moved on to Nashville where he began to find some success as a songwriter. That in turn allowed him to give a boost to other young performers, including Willie Nelson, who became a lifelong friend and frequent performing partner.
Cochran would go on to spend decades as one of the most in-demand composers around, and not by just country singers. Many of his songs have been recorded by stars like Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, and Natalie Cole, all helping confirm his place in music history.