Dennis Linde

Songwriter for Elvis Presley

Dennis Linde, songwriter: born Abilene, Texas 18 March 1943; married Pam Beckham (one son, two daughters); died Nashville, Tennessee 22 December 2006.

With its chugging tempo, which owed a lot to the swamp rock of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Tony Joe White, and "I'm just a hunk-a-hunk-a burnin' love" ad lib at the end, "Burning Love" - written and originally demoed by Dennis Linde - became one of the best songs in the Elvis Presley repertoire of the Seventies and a mainstay of his live set in the Aloha from Hawaii period.

"Burning Love" was first released commercially, along with three other Linde compositions, by Arthur Alexander on the eponymous album the country-soul pioneer made for Warner Brothers in Memphis in late 1971. Alexander and Linde had both become staff writers at Combine Music, joining the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Billy Swan and Wanda Jackson on the books of the Nashville-based publishing company.

Alexander's version of "Burning Love" was quickly eclipsed by Presley's, which made the Top Ten on both sides of the Atlantic and narrowly missed the No 1 spot in the United States in October 1972.

Linde had already issued a solo album, Linde Manor, on the Mercury subsidiary Intrepid in 1970, and parlayed his success as a songwriter into a new deal with Elektra (Dennis Linde, 1973) and then Asylum (Trapped in the Suburbs, 1974), though his most critically acclaimed release was Under the Eye for Monument (1977).

However, though his well-crafted, vivid lyrics and uptempo material also worked in the blues, pop and rock idioms (as demonstrated by the Top Ten hit Shakin' Stevens scored in the UK in 1984 with the Linde composition "A Letter to You"), he was best known for the hit songs he wrote for country stars such as Roger Miller ("Tom Green County Fair", 1970), Don Williams ("Walkin' a Broken Heart", 1985, co-written with Alan Rush; "Then It's Love", 1987), Garth Brooks ("Callin' Baton Rouge", 1993), the Dixie Chicks ("Goodbye Earl", 1999) and Alan Jackson ("The Talkin' Song Repair Blues", 2005).

Something of a recluse, Linde was tagged "Nashville's best-kept songwriting secret" and hardly ever attended any show-business ceremonies though he made a rare public appearance in 2001 when he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame alongside the Everly Brothers, one of the many acts he had worked with over the years.

Born in Abilene, Texas, Linde (pronounced LIN-dee) grew up in San Angelo, Texas, Miami and St Louis and was given a $14 guitar by his grandmother in his teens. He quickly worked out the basic chords he needed to play the standards of the day. In the Sixties, he combined a day-job delivering dry-cleaning with gigs with the cover bands the Starlighters and Bob Kuban and the In-Men, until he lost his driving licence for six months after collecting too many speeding tickets. "How much time can you kill when you can't drive around? So I started writing songs," he recalled.

Drawing on the influence of writers such as Mark Twain, J.D. Salinger and John Steinbeck, composers such as George Gershwin and Cole Porter and the rock'n'rollers Little Richard and Fats Domino, Linde developed the quirky, idiosyncratic, individual style which would lead him to write colourful hits such as "Bubba Shot the Jukebox" and "It Sure is Monday" for the country singer Mark Chesnutt, and "Queen of My Double Wide Trailer" for Sammy Kershaw, another country star, in the early Nineties.

In 1969, Linde moved to Nashville and came to the attention of Bob Beckham, who was at the time running Combine Music. He joined the publishing company and placed "Long Long Texas Road", his first major country hit, with Roy Drusky the following year. Linde found his niche at Combine, and flourished alongside writers and artists like Mickey Newbury and Dolly Parton. He married Beckham's daughter and greatly increased the profitability of the company through the worldwide success of "Burning Love".

Presley recorded two more Linde compositions - "For the Heart" and "I Got a Feelin' in My Body" - and the songwriter did some guitar overdubs on three tracks the King cut during sessions at the Stax studio in Memphis in 1973.

Though Linde would set himself challenges like writing a series of songs starting with each letter of the alphabet - which explains why his catalogue includes puzzling titles like "X Marks the Spot" and "Zoot Suit Baby" - his outlook and approach remained unpretentious. "If you can last through the down spells and don't get wiped out by the up spells, you can stay there. And that's what I want to do," he said.

Pierre Perrone

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Project Administrator

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: International Trade Advisors - Hertfordshire or Essex

£30000 - £35379 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company is based in Welwyn ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Controller - Response Centre

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn