Songwriter-Guitarist Dave Kirby Dies in Branson at 65

Co-wrote "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone," "Memories to Burn"

Songwriter and guitarist Dave Kirby died Saturday (April 17) at his home in Branson, Mo. He was 65 and had been suffering from cancer. Kirby was married to singer Leona Williams.

Although prized as a session guitarist, it was through songwriting that Kirby, a native of Texas, made his biggest impact on country music. Among his many hits were “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone” (a co-write with Glenn Martin) that went No. 1 for Charley Pride in 1970); “Memories to Burn” (with Warren Robb) a Top 5 for Gene Watson in 1986; “There Ain’t No Good Chain Gang” (with Hal Bynum) a No. 2 for Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings in 1978; and “God’s Gonna Getcha (For That) (with Red Lane) a Top 25 for George Jones and Tammy Wynette in 1975. These and other of his songs were recorded by Merle Haggard, Mel Tillis, Ray Price, the Texas Tornados and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Kirby, who married Williams in 1985, had a short run as a recording artist in his own right. He charted his first single — “Her and the Car and the Mobile Home” — in 1969 on Monument Records. In 1981, he returned to the charts again with “North Alabama” and “Moccasin Man” on the Dimension label. The highest-ranking of these efforts, however, rose only to the No. 37 spot. In 1974, Dot Records released his album This Is Dave Kirby — Singer, Picker, Writer.

According to a report in Nashville’s daily Tennessean, Kirby played on sessions for Pride, Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Cash, Neil Young, Ringo Starr and George Strait.

Funeral arrangements have not been released.

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