SESAC broke out the champagne and chilled salmon Tuesday (Jan. 25) to help Ron Harbin, the former "pizza guy," celebrate his recent Lonestar hit, "Mr. Mom." Harbin co-wrote the song with Don Pfrimmer and Lonestar's lead singer, Richie McDonald. Both men attended the party, which was staged in the lobby of the performance rights society's Nashville headquarters.
Other guests included Harbin's fellow songwriters Kim Williams ("Ain't Goin' Down Til the Sun Comes Up," "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter"), Jim McBride ("Angels in Waiting," "Chattahoochee"), Anthony Smith ("What About Now," "Watch This") and singer-songwriter Matt King.
Tim Fink, SESAC's associate vice president of writer/publisher relations, hosted a brief awards presentation and introduced Harbin to the crowd. "I love this guy," said McDonald, when it came his turn at the microphone. "He deserves every bit of this."
Harbin came to Nashville from Bakersfield, Calif., in 1986 to be a songwriter. But, as he told CMT.com, "things didn't take off." So he and his family moved on to Portland, Tenn., and opened a pizza shop.
There was at least one good omen during this down period, however. In 1992, not long after he retreated from Music Row, George Strait recorded "Overnight Male," a song Harbin had co-written with Williams and Richard Fagan, for the soundtrack of his movie, Pure Country. As encouraging as this coup was, Harbin says he was "still afraid to quit" his new pizza business.
After a few years, however, Harbin decided to give songwriting another shot. Williams offered him a writing deal, and he stayed on with that publisher for five years until he formed his own company in 2000. That same year, he scored his first No. 1 -- also with Lonestar. The song was "What About Now," a co-write with Smith and Aaron Barker.
As well-wishers surrounded him and cameras flashed, Harbin looked like a man who is finally content with his career choice.