Songwriter Freddy Powers Dead at 84

Credits Include No. 1 Singles for Merle Haggard, George Jones

Freddy Dale Powers, the jazz-country artist and songwriter whose compositions enriched the charts and repertoires of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and George Jones, among others, died Tuesday (June 21), reportedly of complications from Parkinson’s Disease. He was 84.

Born in Oklahoma and raised in Seminole, Texas, Powers began his career playing in a family band. His musical wanderings led him to Fort Worth, where he met Paul Buskirk, already famous for his work with Lefty Frizzell, Roy Acuff, Eddy Arnold and other country music pioneers. Buskirk, in turn, introduced Powers to Willie Nelson.

Impressed by Powers’ jazz sensibilities, Nelson tapped him to co-produce and sing and play guitar on his 1981 collection of pop hits, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Haggard soon after tapped into Powers’ songwriting skills — and even lured him to California, where the two lived for a while in adjoining houseboats on Lake Shasta.

Powers co-wrote Haggard’s No. 1 singles, “Let’s Chase Each Other Around the Room” (1984) and “Natural High” (1985) as well as Haggard’s chart-topping duet with Janie Fricke, “A Place to Fall Apart” (1984).

Also among Powers’ triumphs was his 1983 No. 1 for George Jones, “I Always Get Lucky With You.”

As a recording artist in his own right, Powers is best known for the albums The Country Jazz Singer (2000) and My Great Escape (2004).

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