Grand Ole Opry Star Jack Greene Dead at 83

He Won the CMA's First Male Vocalist, Single of the Year Awards

Grand Ole Opry star Jack Greene died Thursday (May 14) at his Nashville-area home at the age of 83.

Jack Henry Greene was born Jan. 7, 1930, in Maryville, Tenn. Having learned to play guitar when he was 8 years old (he later became proficient on bass and drums), he followed the usual route to stardom, first appearing in local talent shows, then moving into live performances on local radio while he was still in his teens.

After high school, he moved to Atlanta and joined the Cherokee Trio as a singer and guitarist. He later played with the Rhythm Ranch Boys and Cecil Griffith & the Young ‘Uns before being drafted into the Army. He was discharged in 1952 and returned to Atlanta.

Greene continued to perform with bands at Atlanta venues until Ernest Tubb “discovered” him in 1961 and, a few months later, hired him as a singer and drummer for his band, the Texas Troubadours. Decca Records, Tubb’s label, took notice of Greene’s talents as a singer and signed him to his own recording contract in 1964.

His first chart single for Decca — a song written by Marty Robbins called “Ever Since My Baby Went Away” — peaked at No. 37 in 1966. But his next release that same year — Dallas Frazier’s “There Goes My Everything” — established his career. It spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard country songs chart.

In 1967, at its first awards presentation, the Country Music Association voted “There Goes My Everything” single of the year, and Greene was also named male vocalist of the year. The same year, the Grand Ole Opry inducted him as a member. He would remain a member until his death.

More No. 1 singles followed: “All the Time” (1967, five weeks at the top), “You Are My Treasure” (1968), “Until My Dreams Come True” and “Statue of a Fool” (both 1969). With Opry mate Jeannie Seely , Greene scored the No. 2 single, “Wish I Didn’t Have to Miss You” in 1970.

Greene charted consistently for Decca (and its subsequent identity as MCA Records) for the next five years, although never as high as his early triumphs. In 1973, he had a No. 11 hit with “I Need Somebody Bad,” a song that would also become one of his signature tunes.

After departing MCA in 1975, Greene had no chart activity for the next five years. But he returned in 1980 on the Frontline label with the Top 30 “Yours for the Taking.” He later switched to EMH Records and had his last charted single there in 1984, “If It’s Love (Then Bet It All).”

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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