Songwriter-Producer Norro Wilson Dead at 79

Co-wrote Classics Such as “The Grand Tour,” “The Most Beautiful Girl”

Producer, songwriter and former recording artist Norro Wilson — whose hit compositions included George Jones’ “The Grand Tour” and Charlie Rich’s “The Most Beautiful Girl” — died Thursday (June 8) in Nashville at the age of 79.

Among the acts he produced or co-produced were Jones, Shania Twain, Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans, Charley Pride, Reba McEntire, Sammy Kershaw, Joe Stampley and Margo Smith.

Responding to Wilson’s death, his frequent co-producer, Buddy Cannon, said on his Facebook page, “We had unreasonable amounts of good times. We made a lot of good music together. He loved me and my family, and I love him and his family. He was my friend, and I will miss him forever.”

Born in Scottsville, Kentucky, on April 4, 1938, Norris D. Wilson began his musical career as a member of the Southlanders Quartet, a gospel group. He moved to Nashville in the late 1950s, where he sang harmony for such recording acts as Faron Young and Ferlin Husky.

He got his first songwriting contract in 1962 with Acuff-Rose and moved on to Al Gallico Music five years later. His first major hit as a songwriter came in 1969 when David Houston recorded “Baby, Baby (I Know You’re a Lady)” and took it to No. 1.

That same year, Wilson made his debut as a recording artist on Smash Records with the single “Only You.” Over the next eight years, he would chart nine more singles, the highest climbing of which was the Top 20 “Do It to Someone You Love” in 1970.

As a songwriter, though, Wilson was regularly composing hits for others during the 1970s, including “A Very Special Love Song” and “I Love My Friend” for Rich, “Soul Song” for Stampley and “My Man (Understands),” “Another Lonely Song” and “He Loves Me All the Way” for Tammy Wynette.

“A Very Special Love Song” netted Wilson a Grammy for best country song.

Wilson was elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1996 and to the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

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