Dave Kirby

Songwriter best known for 'Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone?'

A successful songwriter and session guitarist, Dave Kirby will be best remembered for writing one of the most popular songs in country-music history, "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone?"



David Kirby, singer, songwriter and guitarist: born Brady, Texas 10 July 1938; twice married (two sons, one daughter); died Branson, Missouri 17 April 2004.



A successful songwriter and session guitarist, Dave Kirby will be best remembered for writing one of the most popular songs in country-music history, "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone?"

He and his co-writer, Glenn Martin, were inspired to write the song when a fellow musician asked the question as they left a Nashville studio. In time they presented it to Charley Pride and, although he recorded it almost reluctantly, it went on to become his third No 1, topping the charts for two weeks in the spring of 1970.

A number of other leading country acts subsequently enjoyed success with Kirby's compositions, including Merle Haggard ("Sidewalks of Chicago", 1970), Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings ("There Ain't No Good Chain Gang", 1978) and Gene Watson ("Memories to Burn", 1985).

A native of Brady, Texas, Kirby was encouraged to pursue a career in music by an uncle, the singer Big Bill Lister. He worked as a deejay and polished his craft as a songwriter, eventually coming to the attention of two of Music City's premier tunesmiths. Kirby recalled:

During the 1960s, Willie Nelson used to come out to Albuquerque and he got me to go and play in the band. Willie got to liking my songs, and I don't remember how, but

Hank Cochran got to liking them too. They both wrote me saying, "Come to Nashville", so in 1967 I made the big move.

In addition to his writing he also became an in-demand session guitarist, making his début in the studio alongside the Grand Ole Opry star Grandpa Jones:

Grandpa walked in the studio and looked at me. I had kind of long hair and the first thing he said was "Son, don't play any of those hippie licks on my record".

He eventually played guitar on hundreds of sides, performing on the hits of, among others, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and Don Williams. Kirby also recorded under his own name and in 1973 Dot issued an album which perfectly summarised his talents: Writer, Singer, Picker.

In 1985 Kirby married Merle Haggard's ex-wife, the singer Leona Williams. They began to perform together and relocated to Branson, Missouri, with its large number of country music-oriented dinner theatres. Before his death he completed work on a new album, Mr Songwriter.

Paul Wadey

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