Hank Cochran: Country songwriter best known for Patsy Cline's hit 'I Fall to Pieces'

With over 500 recorded songs, Hank Cochran was a prolific and successful country-music writer. He rarely strayed from country music but "I Fall to Pieces" and "Make the World Go Away" became standards known the world over. He had considerable integrity and he would say, "I would rather have a friend than a hit."

Cochran's early life possessed all the drama of a country song. He was born Garland Perry Cochran to poverty-stricken parents in Isola, Mississippi in 1935. His parents divorced when he was nine. His mother, unable to cope, placed his sister in a home and sent him to his father. His father, now in Memphis, soon tired of the responsibility and placed him in an orphanage. After running away, Hank was sent to live with his grandparents, where he started singing and playing guitar. When he was 13 he went to New Mexico with his uncle Otis and they found jobs in an oil field. On one occasion, while a leak was being corrected, a mistake meant that the young boy was hoisted 90 feet in the air by a derrick, with just a rope around his waist. His uncle left the oil field but he stayed on for a while and bought his own guitar.

When Cochran was 17, he moved to California and started playing small clubs and doing radio work, calling himself Hank Cochran. He was joined by 16-year-old Eddie Cochran, a newcomer to California himself. Although not related, they called themselves the Cochran Brothers, recording three singles for the Ekko label, toured with the country star Lefty Frizzell, and appeared on TV and radio. Elvis Presley was making his presence felt and they recorded a rock'n'roll single, "Tired and Sleepy", after which they split up, with Eddie becoming a huge star before his premature death.

In 1959 Cochran moved to Nashville and promoted Pamper Music's new songs, including his own. He befriended another writer, Harlan Howard, and they wrote Patsy Cline's weepie "I Fall to Pieces" (1961), and Cochran wrote another of her successes, "She's Got You" (1962). Cochran recognised the talents of Willie Nelson and he wrote his first chart success, "Willingly" (1962). Cochran and Howard wrote a superb country song for George Jones, "You Comb Her Hair" (1963).

In the early 1960s, the folk singer and actor Burl Ives recorded country songs in Nashville, and Cochran wrote his successes "A Little Bitty Tear" and "Funny Way of Laughin' ". In 1963 he wrote the ballad "Make the World Go Away" for Ray Price, which became an international hit for Eddy Arnold.

Jeannie Seely had a country hit with "Don't Touch Me" (1966) and she recorded an album of his songs, Thanks, Hank (1967). They were married from 1969 to 1979. Cochran recorded albums of his own songs, such as Hits from the Heart (1963) and Going in Training (1965). Other successes included "Don't You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me)", sung by Ray Price in 1966 and Ronnie Milsap in 1989; "It's Not Love (But It's Not Bad)" for Merle Haggard in 1972; and "I'd Fight the World", a posthumous hit for Jim Reeves in 1974.

Cochran had an up-and-down life, with frequent treatment for alcoholism. He presented the TV show Austin City Limits in 1979, and featured in the Willie Nelson film Honeysuckle Rose singing "Make the World Go Away" with Seely.

In 1985, he teamed up with a new writer, Dean Dillon, and wrote "The Chair" (1985) and "Ocean Front Property" (1987) for George Strait. Vern Gosdin recorded several of his songs on Chiselled in Stone (1988), while Cochran worked with Billy Don Burns on Desperate Men (1997), which included the tribute song "Patsy". He released his final album, Livin' for a Song, in 2002, with its autobiographical title track.

Spencer Leigh

Garland Perry Cochran (Hank Cochran), songwriter: born Isola, Mississippi 2 August 1935; married five times (one son, three daughters); died Hendersonville, Tennessee 15 July 2010.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee