Hit Songwriter Jerry Chesnut Dead at 87

Wrote “A Good Year for the Roses,” “It’s Four in the Morning”

Jerry Chesnut, the writer of such hits as Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Another Place, Another Time,” Faron Young’s “It’s Four in the Morning” and George Jones’ “A Good Year for the Roses,” died Saturday (Dec. 15) at the age of 87.

Born in the Eastern Kentucky coal-mining town of Loyall on May 7, 1931, Chesnut grew up playing country music and eventually had his own local radio show.

He moved to Nashville in 1958 and supported himself selling vacuum cleaners door to door. His first success as a songwriter came in 1967 when Del Reeves took his “A Dime at a Time” to No. 12 on the Billboard charts.

It was the first of a deluge of high-ranking songs, among them Reeve’s “Good Time Charley’s,” Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton’s “Holding on to Nothing,” Johnny Cash’s “Oney,” Hank William Jr.’s “Pride’s Not Hard to Swallow” and Elvis Presley’s “T-R-O-U-B-L-E.”

Tall and stately, Chesnut was easily spotted in a crowd by his white, ornately decorated cowboy hat.

Writing almost exclusively by himself, Chesnut saw his songs recorded by Ray Price, Waylon Jennings, Roy Clark, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Dean, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Travis Tritt, B. J. Thomas, Tom Jones, Eddy Arnold, Commander Cody, NRBQ, Mel Tillis, Pat Boone and dozens of others.

Beginning in 1971, Chesnut’s dry wit and comic timing earned him a series of appearances on the nationally syndicated Hee Haw variety show.

He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1996.
No funeral arrangements have yet been announced.

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