The Country Music Association announced today yesterday that Mississippian Hank Cochran, Mac Wiseman and Ronnie Milsap will be the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Bobby Bare, one of last year’s three inductees, introduced the late Hank Cochran, who is the 2014 inductee in the songwriter category. Known by many simply as The Legend, Bare talked of first meeting Cochran and his impact on country music.
“This guy was a great songwriter,” Bare said. “He called himself The Legend long before he was ever a legend. I’ve been his friend for 60 years. When I hitchhiked to L.A.. the first person I met was The Legend. He could break your heart with a set of lyrics. He fell in love at least once a month, and he would marry ‘em. Most of us guys would fall in love, and it didn’t work out and we’d split, but he would marry ‘em.”
Cochran’s wife of 21 years, Suzi, went to the podium to talk on his behalf. Cochran died in 2010 in Nashville at the age of 74.
Cochran was born during the Great Depression in Isola, Miss. He contracted pneumonia, whooping cough, measles, and mumps all about the same time at age 2. The doctor didn’t believe that he would survive. His parents divorced when he was 9 years old. He relocated with his father to Memphis, but then was put into an orphanage. He was sent to live with his grandparents, in Greenville, Miss., after he had run away from the orphanage twice. His uncle Otis Cochran taught him how to play the guitar as the pair hitchhiked from Mississippi to southeastern New Mexico to work in the oilfields
After returning to Mississippi in his teens, he went to California and picked olives.
At the age of 24 he hitchhiked for Hollywood, but ended up going to Nashville in 1960, and teamed with Harlan Howard to write the song “I Fall to Pieces.” It became a major success for Patsy Cline (recorded November 16, 1960), reaching No. 1 on the country charts.
In 1960, he was on a date at a movie theater when the film inspired him. He left the theater quickly, and by the time he got home fifteen minutes later had composed “Make the World Go Away.” Ray Price recorded the song, and it scored No. 2 on the Billboard country charts in 1963. The next year Eddy Arnold would make the song his signature hit.