Country Star Jack Greene Dies at 83

Jack Greene 1970 - P 2013
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jack Greene 1970 - P 2013

Jack Greene, one of country music's most distinctive song stylists of the 1960s, died Thursday at home in Nashville of complications from Alzheimer's disease. The longtime Grand Ole Opry star (a member since 1967) was 83.

Greene was born January 7, 1930 in Maryville, TN. Greene moved to Atlanta in the early 1950s, forming his own band, The Peach Tree Boys. He came back to Tennessee by the end of the decade, settling in Nashville. In 1961, a chance meeting with Ernest Tubb led him to be invited to join his band, where he served as a drummer (and sometimes guitarist). Greene admitted to taking a lot of mental notes watching the Hall of Famer. "I watched him perform for five years, but also watching him handle the public," Greene recalled in a 1997 interview. "All of those things, he taught me. The fans is the most important item in your life."

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Playing with Tubb led to his voice being included on several of the singer's Decca albums. One cut that gained him notable attention was his version of Rex Griffin's "The Last Letter." Greene signed his own contract with his boss's label, Decca, hitting the singles chart for the first time on Christmas Day 1965 with "Ever Since My Baby Went Away." It would be almost a year until he reappeared on the charts, but his next hit would put his name in the history book for good.

"There Goes My Everything," hit the charts in October 1966, and spent seven weeks at No. 1. The success of the song would net him a trio of awards at the inaugural Country Music Association Awards in 1967 – Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year (There Goes My Everything), and Single of the Year. Dallas Frazier, the writer of the song, also made history by becoming the first winner of the CMA Song of the Year award. The night was one that he would never forget. "I was just amazed at winning three awards with all the competition back at that time, like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. It was amazing," the singer stated.

Greene -- who joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1967 -- remained a chart fixture throughout the decade. He topped the chart on four other occasions - "All The Time," "You Are My Treasure," "Until My Dreams Come True," and 1969's "Statue Of A Fool." He also recorded a trio of hits with Jeannie Seely -- with the biggest being "Wish I Didn't Have To Miss You," which became his last release to make the top ten, from early 1970.