There probably isn’t a song in modern country music that hasn’t been written, produced or somehow influenced by the golden touch of busbee.
Mike Busbee, who has been known by his lowercase surname, has died, and many of the country artists he worked with in his much-too-short life are sharing their emotional reactions to the songwriter/producer’s death on Sunday night (Sept. 29). He had been diagnosed with glioblastoma — an aggressive form of brain cancer — just a few months ago.
Busbee, 43, had his first taste of the music business when he learned to play classical piano and jazz trombone when he was growing up in California. After navigating his way through the various genres, spending time working with both rock and pop artists, he landed in country music when he was discovered by Nashville’s sought-after producer Dan Huff. Busbee then went on to work with Blake Shelton, Garth Brooks, Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Keith Urban, Maren Morris, Runaway June, Florida Georgia Line, Carly Pearce, Hunter Hayes, LoCash, Lauren Alaina, Kelly Clarkson and many, many more.
Earlier this year, busbee had started a music company called Altadena in Los Angeles. It is a joint venture with Warner Bros. Records, Warner/Chappell Music and Red Light Management. “I have taken steps throughout my career to pursue meaningful music and strong relationships. With the launch of Altadena, I’m excited to continue this pursuit in partnership with the incredible teams at Warner Bros. Records, Warner/Chappell and Red Light,” busbee had said in a press release at the time.
In a recent Rolling Stone story, busbee shared his love for the Nashville way of doing business. “I started out and still would consider myself a pop writer. But I’m very grateful to come up in the Nashville way of doing things — they have an incredibly high bar and talent level. One of the beautiful things about that system is that you get to write with so many people, and people are typically gracious (enough) to take the chance on you. If they think you’re really talented, you’re in — even if you haven’t had a hit for a minute,” he’d said, “because that happens to everybody. Pop is a little more like, ‘Well, what have you done lately?’”
The story behind Morris’ “My Church,” according to Songwriter Universe, is that after knowing each other for a few years, they’d booked a songwriting session and really started to hit it off. “Long story short, I got enamored by her talent and reached out to her. We started writing together. She had been out in L.A. to do some writing sessions” he’d said, “and she came to my studio and said, ’Hey, I’ve got this title My Church.’ I said, ’Oh, that’s interesting. What does that mean?’
“She said, ’When I’m in the car driving and listening to music, it moves me. I feel like that’s kind of my version of church.’ It literally just hit me, and I go ’Can I get a hallelujah?’ We just started writing the chorus. An hour and a half later it was done. The vocal that’s on the radio is the one I recorded that day as the demo.” The song went on to become Morris’ debut, breakout hit in 2016.
Busbee is survived by his wife and three young daughters.
I absolutely can’t accept the loss of mine and Gwen’s friend Michael (Busbee)..Too much to say for social media. Too much pain and unfairness period. I guess sometimes you gotta dig extra EXTRA deep for peace to continue to have faith. And I will because Michael ALWAYS had faith.
— Blake Shelton (@blakeshelton) September 30, 2019
Over a decade of life and music together. We shared some of our favorite memories with you. You were more than a co-writer, producer, or friend. You were family. We love you. pic.twitter.com/3nDgQimGKp
— Lady Antebellum (@ladyantebellum) September 30, 2019
This just doesn’t seem fair. I will always love you and the songs and albums I was lucky to make with you, Busbee. Rest well, my sweet friend. pic.twitter.com/9DKsU5G77a
— MAREN MORRIS (@MarenMorris) September 30, 2019
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I sang “every little thing” tonight through broken tears with thousands of voices and cell phone lights in the air, because I asked them to raise them up high so you could see them shining from heaven. What a beautiful sight it was. You gave my music a place in this world. I’ll cherish the 2 albums, songs, talks, laughs & memories we shared over the years. My heart is broken, but the legacy of your talents and your heart will live on in all of the artists and people you touched. I love you, Busbee. ♥️
music lost one of our best
your words & melodies will live forever. rest easy busbee @ Nashville, Tennessee https://t.co/FmNhFbYJJH
— LOCASH (@LOCASHmusic) September 30, 2019
Our loss is heavens gain. So incredibly sad to hear that we’ve lost Busbee. Thinking of his family and wishing them healing. pic.twitter.com/BenyQWtmup
— Cassadee Pope (@CassadeePope) September 30, 2019
RIP Busbee. An absolute talent. Gone too damn soon.
— Travis Denning (@Travis_Denning) September 30, 2019
I can’t think of a single word, or hear a single note. Man, I just heard your voice days ago… I lost a brother today. We just lost one of the greats. @busbee I know you know our hearts are with your beautiful family.
God bless you. pic.twitter.com/I0o1AlkF2K
— BILLY MANN (@BillyMann) September 30, 2019
heard the news at dinner that Busbee had passed. loved being around the guy. So much so that I wrote about him in my last book. a real light, that was extremely smart and great to be around. so sad. RIP man.
— Bobby Bones (@mrBobbyBones) September 30, 2019
I love you, Busbee. We texted every day since the diagnosis. I didn’t understand why you didn’t respond today. I’m so sad. Thank you for being there for me and Jac when we were hurting. I tried to be there for you but no one’s heart is bigger than yours. Love you, brother.
— Ross Golan (@rossgolan) September 30, 2019