“Slowly” Writer Tommy Hill Dead at 72

Tommy Hill, an influential country and rockabilly songwriter, label owner, producer and musician, died Thursday (March 21) in Nashville. He was 72 and had been in ill health. Hill wrote the No. 1 country hits “Slowly” (Webb Pierce), “Teddy Bear” (Red Sovine) and “I Let the Stars Get in My Eyes” (for his sister, Goldie Hill). Raised near San Antonio, Texas, Hill played fiddle and guitar for Pierce, Ray Price, Jim Reeves and other artists in the studio and on the road. As a bandleader, Hill recorded for labels Decca, Hickory and Starday but never scored a chart hit. In 1959, Hill became a staff producer for Starday and in the late ’60s he formed Stop Records with steel guitarist Pete Drake, releasing early hits for Johnny Bush and others. Hill started Gusto Records in 1972. He brought in Moe Lytle as a partner two years later, and Lytle later bought Starday-King Records. Hill continued to produce for Starday and gave the label its biggest hit with “Teddy Bear.” Visitation will be from 2-5 p.m. Saturday (March 23) and 1-2 p.m. Sunday (March 24) at Williamson Memorial Funeral Home in Brentwood. Services are set for 2 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home. 03/22/02