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.

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
News
Robyn Lawley
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
News
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
As Loki in The Avengers (2012)
filmRead Tom Hiddleston's email to Joss Whedon on prospect of playing Loki
Voices
voices In defence of the charcoal-furred feline, by Felicity Morse
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Education Recruitment Consultant- Learning Support

£18000 - £30000 per annum + Generous commission scheme: AER Teachers: Thames T...

All Primary NQT's

£100 - £120 per day + per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Description Calling a...

Supply Teachers Needed in Thetford

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Supply teachers neede...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star