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Tom T. Hall, Country Music's 'Storyteller,' Dies at 85

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Legendary country singer-songwriter Tom T. Hall  died Friday (Aug. 20) at age 85. The Tennessean reports that Hall died at his home in Franklin, Tenn., according to his son, Dean Hall.

Hall, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, was known as "The Storyteller," a name given to him by fellow country artist Tex Ritter.

Hall became known for his compelling story songs, which showcased his heart and humor, such as "That's How I Got to Memphis," "Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine," "The Year That Clayton Delaney Died" and "Harper Valley PTA."


Born in Olive Hill, Kentucky, Hall played in a bluegrass band, the Kentucky Travelers, as a teenager. After serving in the military, Hall shared his songs with Nashville publisher Jimmy Key, who in turn shared Hall's "D. J. for a Day" with Jimmy C. Newman, who scored a Top 10 hit with the song.

Hall racked up a slew of country hits throughout the '70s, including "A Week in a Country Jail," "I Love," "Country Is," "Margie's At the Lincoln Park Inn" and "Faster Horses (the Cowboy and the Poet)."

In 1996, Alan Jackson scored a hit with Hall's song "Little Bitty."

Hall, along with contemporaries such as Kris Kristofferson, helped usher in a new era of country music songwriting.

"Tom T. Hall's masterworks vary in plot, tone, and tempo, but they are bound by his ceaseless and unyielding empathy for the triumphs and losses of others," Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame, said in a statement on Friday. "He wrote without judgment or anger, offering a rhyming journalism of the heart that sets his compositions apart from any other writer. His songs meant the world to Bobby Bare, Johnny Cash, George Jones and other greats, and those songs will continue to speak to generations."

Tom T. Hall met fellow songwriter Dixie Hall (known as Miss Dixie) at a BMI awards banquet. The couple married in 1968 and launched a creative partnership that would last for decades. The couple was presented with the Distinguished Achievement Award by the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2004. They were inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Hall became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1971 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2019.

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Tom T. Hall, Country Music's 'Storyteller,' Dies at 85