Johnny Duncan

Country singer-songwriter
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The Independent Online

John Richard Duncan, singer and songwriter: born Dublin, Texas 5 October 1938; twice married (one son, four daughters); died Fort Worth, Texas 14 August 2006.

The country artist Johnny Duncan, who had a succession of hits in the 1970s, was best known for his songs "It Couldn't Have Been Any Better" (1977) and "She Can Put Her Shoes Under My Bed Anytime" (1978). His work was also covered by artists including Conway Twitty, Charlie Pride and Chet Atkins.

Duncan had an early initiation in music, but also several false starts before hitting his stride. According to his second wife, Connie, he knew by the age of 12 that music would be his vocation. As a boy, he learnt the guitar from his mother, who played in his uncle's country band. Duncan joined this, as did his cousins Dan and Jimmy Seals (later famous with the groups England Dan & John Ford Coley and Seals & Crofts). By his late teens, Duncan was developing his baritone singing voice and in 1959 he moved to Clovis, New Mexico, where he recorded several demos with Buddy Holly's producer Norman Petty - to no avail.

By 1964, he was living in Nashville, where he took odd jobs and worked as a DJ on a local radio station, which provided him with the opportunity of pitching his songs to visiting artists. He became known for singing jingles and was invited to make guest appearances on local TV shows, one of which led to a recording contract with CBS.

His first two albums were only moderately successful, but after teaming up with the producer Billy Sherrill, he had an initial brace of hits with "Baby's Smile, Woman's Kiss" (1972), and "Sweet Country Woman" (1973). The breakdown of his first marriage prompted a move back to Texas, but he made a comeback dueting with Janie Fricke on "Jo and the Cowboy", which also effectively launched her career.

Duncan had his first Billboard Country Chart No 1 with "Thinkin' of a Rendezvous" (also with Fricke) in 1976, and there followed a string of hits which lasted until the end of the decade.

He subsequently moved back to Texas once again and lived a quiet life with his new family. In 2004, he released his last album, The Thing To Do, and was preparing for a tour at the time of his death.

Jon Lusk