Jonnie Barnett, “The Chain of Love” Writer, Dead At 56

Jonnie Barnett, co-writer of the Clay Walker hit, “The Chain Of Love,” died Sunday (Aug. 18) at Baptist Hospital in Nashville. According to information provided the Tennessean newspaper, Barnett was 56 and died of a stroke. In addition to “Chain,” a 2001 BMI award-winner, Barnett also co-wrote “One Foot In The Blues,” which was recorded by Johnny Adams and nominated in 1997 at the W. C. Handy Blues Awards for blues song of the year.

Born Jonathan Barnett Kaye in Sumpter, SC, Barnett broke into the entertainment business as a performer, sharing the bill with such acts as Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Cheech & Chong, Howlin’ Wolf, Eric Burdon and Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry. However, he was primarily a songwriter for the last 20 years of his life. Among those who recorded his songs were Hank Williams Jr., Etta James, the Holmes Brothers, Joe Simon, Eric Burdon, Irma Thomas and his sometimes co-writer Dan Penn.

Occasionally doubling as a movie actor, Barnett had small parts in Robert Altman’s Nashville (1975) and Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie (1980).

Barnett and his co-writer, Rory Lee, wrote a short-story version of “The Chain of Love” that appeared in the inspirational book Chicken Soup For The Country Soul before Walker released it in song form.

Survivors, the Tennessean reports, include Barnett’s mother, his wife, a sister and a brother. A spokesman for the Marshall Donnelly Combs funeral home in Nashville told that Barnett’s family plans a memorial service for next month.

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