Music Row Veteran Nelson Larkin Dead at 70

Songwriter-Publisher Also Produced Earl Thomas Conley, Toby Keith and Others

Producer, songwriter and music publisher Nelson Larkin died Monday (Nov. 18) at his home in Brentwood, Tenn. He was 70.

Larkin was best known for producing Earl Thomas Conley’s long series of hits during the 1980s, but he also helmed records for Billy Joe Royal, Toby Keith, Neal McCoy, Tommy Roe, Dave & Sugar, Dean Dillon, Red Sovine and Johnny Rodriguez, among others.

For Royal, he co-wrote the Top 5 singles “I’ll Pin a Note on Your Pillow” and “Love Has No Right” and for Tracy Lawrence the Top 10 “Somebody Paints the Wall.”

Larkin founded Sunbird Records, was president and head of A&R for GRT Records and, in 1989, helped established the Nashville division of Atlantic Records, where he was instrumental in launching the careers of Lawrence and John Michael Montgomery. He also served as director of Nashville operations for the Famous Music publishing company.

A celebration of Larkin’s life is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 21) at Brentwood United Methodist Church. Visitation begins at 1 p.m.

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