Award-winning songwriter Red Lane died Wednesday evening (July 1) following a lengthy illness. He was 76.
A member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame since 1993, Lane wrote or co-wrote such country classics as Tammy Wynette’s “Till I Get It Right,” Merle Haggard’s “My Own Kind of Hat,” John Conlee’s “Miss Emily’s Picture,” George Strait’s “Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa,” Willie Nelson’s “Blackjack County Chain,” Eddy Arnold’s “They Don’t Make Love Like They Used To” and B.J. Thomas’ “New Looks From an Old Lover.”
Lane was born Hollis Rudolph DeLaughter in Zona, Louisiana, on Feb. 2, 1939. His family later moved to northern Indiana. Instructed by his father, he began learning to play the guitar when he was 10.
After finishing high school, he joined the Air Force but was prevented by color blindness from serving as a pilot. Even so, he became a skilled mechanic who never lost his love for airplanes. In his final years, he lived outside Nashville in a 170-passenger Douglas DC-8 jet he converted into a house.
In 1958, his last year in the Air Force, he began playing guitar in nightclubs six nights a week as “Red Lane,” a name he adopted to avoid possible trouble with military authorities. Following his discharge, he toured the country with various bands. In 1964, he met Grand Ole Opry star Justin Tubb, who listened to some of his songs and hired him to play in his band.
Tubb, in turn, introduced Lane to music publisher Buddy Killen, who signed him to a songwriting contract. As a guitarist, Lane later went on to play in Dottie West’s and Merle Haggard’s bands.
Lane signed to RCA Records as an artist in the early 1970s, but managed to chart only four singles between 1971 and 1972, none of them reaching the Top 20. He also worked as a scriptwriter for The Johnny Cash Show on ABC-TV.