Cecil Null, Writer of “I Forgot More,” Dead at 74

Songwriter and performer Cecil Null died of cancer Sunday (Aug. 26) at the Bristol Regional Medical Center near his home in Bristol, Va. He was 74. Null’s most famous composition was “I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know,” a No. 1 hit in 1953 for the Davis Sisters . Bill Phillips had a minor hit in 1970 with Null’s “She’s Hungry Again.”

Null’s longtime friend, journalist Bill Littleton, says Null was also the guiding force in uniting Chet Atkins and Merle Travis for their Grammy-winning 1974 album, The Atkins-Travis Traveling Show.

Cecil Allen Null was born April 26, 1927, in War, W.Va. He began writing songs and singing publicly while serving in the Navy during World War II. After leaving the service, he performed with various groups on radio stations in Bristol, Va. Null told interviewer Dorothy Horstman that he wrote “I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know” in 1947. “It was turned down by nearly everybody in the business,” he said. Dolly Parton , Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette covered the song on their 1993 album, Honky Tonk Angels.

A student of American folk music, Null became an expert at playing and designing autoharps and ultimately served as a consultant for a manufacturer of the instrument. His 1964 song, “Mother Maybelle,” was inspired by Maybelle Carter , perhaps country music’s foremost autoharpist. That same year, Null formed a recording duo with his wife, Annette.

During the course of his career, Null recorded for such small labels as Revolvo, Briar and Jed. The Nulls also did one album for Decca, Instrumental Country Hymns, in 1968.

Null is survived by his wife, two stepsons, a brother and two sisters. He was buried Wednesday (Aug. 29) at Glenwood Cemetery in Bristol, Tenn.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.