One of America’s most successful songwriters, Tom T. Hall passed away in mid August. Known as “the Storyteller”, Hall wrote 12 number one songs with an additional 26 that reached the top 10.
Born in Kentucky, Hall organized his first band to play between movies for a traveling theater. While in the Army he performed on the Armed Forces Radio Network and after discharge enrolled at Roanoke College. It was there he began working as a radio DJ, with stops at several stations in the mid atlantic. A song written about his experiences, DJ for a Day was his break into music when country singer Jimmy C. Newman recorded it.
Going to work for Newman, Hall became a $50 a week songwriter, composing up to six country songs a day.
Tom T. Hall wrote one of the first pro Vietnam War songs during a time when most music was aimed at opposing views. After Johnnie Wright took the song Hello Vietnam to number one on the country charts, Hall was encouraged to begin recording some of his songs himself. His first record came in 1967 and in 1969, when Jeannie C. Riley took his Harper Valley PTA to number one interest in his recordings increased. Hall was a fixture on the country charts through the mid 70s. He aided this through regular TV appearances on the widely popular “Hee Haw”country variety show.
Hall’s production slowed by the early 80s, and in 1986 he stopped writing songs. In 1994 retired from performing in 1994 and appeared on stage only one more time in 2011. Among his many awards, Hall was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008 and won the IBMA Songwriter of the Year award twelve times.