This year witnessed the exit of some of country music’s most revered songwriters — the composers of such memorables as “Crazy Arms,” “The Fugitive,” “I’ll Still Be Loving You,” “Country Bumpkin,” “Between the Devil and Me” and “Wanted.”
Gone as well are two more members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, four members of the Grand Ole Opry and a billionaire banjo player who loved bluegrass.
In chronological order, here is a list of our common losses in 2011:
Margaret Whiting, 86, big band pop singer who, teaming with Jimmy Wakely, scored a 17-week No. 1 country hit in 1949 with “Slipping Around.” She died Jan. 10 in Englewood, N.J.
Tommy Crain, 59, former guitarist and songwriter for the Charlie Daniels Band, Jan. 13, in Williamson County, Tenn.
Doc Williams (birth name Andrew John Smik), 96, country bandleader, recording artist and longtime member of the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree, Jan. 31, in Wheeling, W.Va.
Carlton Haney, 82, bluegrass and country music promoter, early producer of bluegrass festivals and member of the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame, March 16, in Greensboro, N.C.
Ferlin Husky, 85, prominent recording artist (“Gone,” “Wings of a Dove”), creator of the comic alter ego “Simon Crum” and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, March 17, in Westmoreland, Tenn.
Ralph Mooney, 82, pioneering steel guitarist and co-writer of “Crazy Arms,” March 20, in Arlington, Texas.
Harley Allen, 55, son of bluegrass singer Red Allen and the writer of such hits as “Between the Devil and Me,” “The Little Girl,” “The Baby” and “Tough Little Boys,” March 30, in Nashville.
Mel McDaniel, 68, recording artist (“Louisiana Saturday Night,” “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On”) and member of the Grand Ole Opry, March 31, in Hendersonville, Tenn.
Randy Wood, 94, founder of Dot Records and a driving force behind such Dot artists as Pat Boone and Mac Wiseman, April 9, in California.
Hazel Dickens, 75, folk and bluegrass singer and political activist, April 22, in Washington, D.C.
Charlie Fach, 82, former executive for Mercury and PolyGram Records, former president of Smash Records and founder of Compleat Records, April 25, in Hermitage, Tenn.
Joseph Brooks, 73, writer of Debby Boone’s 1977 hit “You Light Up My Life,” May 22, in New York City.
Andrew Gold, 59, singer, songwriter and guitarist who worked extensively with Linda Ronstadt and co-founded the group Bryndle, June 3, in Encino, Calif.
Steve Popovich, 68, former executive for Columbia Records, founder of Cleveland International Records and head of Mercury Records’ Nashville division, June 8, in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Kenny Baker, 85, acclaimed fiddler, longtime member of Bill Monroe‘s Blue Grass Boys and member of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, July 8, in Nashville.
Billy Grammer, 85, singer, guitarist, guitar maker and member of the Grand Ole Opry whose record “Gotta Travel On” was a crossover hit in 1959, Aug. 10, in Benton, Ill.
Jerry Leiber, 78, songwriter whose musical partnership with Mike Stoller yielded such classics as “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog” and “Stand by Me,” Aug. 22, in Los Angeles.
Wade Mainer, 104, groundbreaking banjo player and pioneer recording artist who, among his many other distinctions, performed at the White House for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Sept. 12, in Flint, Mich.
Don Wayne, 78, writer of “Country Bumpkin” and co-writer (with Bill Anderson) of “Saginaw, Michigan,” Sept. 12, in Nashville.
Wilma Lee Cooper, 90, of the Grand Ole Opry act Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Sept. 13, in Sweetwater, Tenn. She continued to perform solo on the Opry after her husband Stoney’s death in 1977 and suffered the stroke that would end her performing career on the Opry stage in 2001.
Steve Jobs, 56, co-founder of Apple and a prime mover in shifting recorded music sales from physical to digital via iTunes and the iPod, Oct. 5, in California.
Joel “Taz” DiGregorio, 67, veteran keyboardist and vocalist in Charlie Daniels Band, Oct. 12, near Nashville.
Liz Anderson, 81, songwriter (“The Fugitive,” “My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers”), recording artist and mother of country/pop star Lynn Anderson, Oct. 31, in Nashville.
Joe Gracey, 61, pioneering figure in the Austin and Texas music scenes, Nov. 17, in Houston.
Paul Yandell, 76, noted studio guitarist and longtime sideman for Chet Atkins, Nov. 21, near Nashville.
Charlie Douglas, 78, former DJ on WSM-AM Nashville, Grand Ole Opry announcer, occasional recording artist, co-founder of the CDX radio promotion service and member of the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame, Nov. 24, in Picayune, Miss.
Tom Roady, 62, studio and touring percussionist, Nov. 28, while on tour with Ricky Skaggs.
Dobie Gray, 71, songwriter and singer of the hits “The In Crowd” (1965) and “Drift Away” (1973), Dec. 6, in Nashville.
Barbara Orbison, 60, music publisher and widow of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Roy Orbison, Dec. 6, in Los Angeles.
Bee Spears, 62, Willie Nelson‘s bass player for 43 years, Dec. 8, near Nashville.
Billie Jo Spears, 74, singer of such country hits as “Mr. Walker, It’s All Over” (1969) and “Blanket On The Ground” (1975), Dec. 14, in Vidor, Tex.
Warren Hellman, 77, billionaire philanthropist, founder of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco and at the time of his death a vocalist and banjoist for the country band the Wronglers, Dec. 18, in San Francisco.