Country Music Legend Tom T. Hall Dead at 85

Country Music Legend Tom T. Hall Dead at 85 Tom T. Hall accepts the Icon Award at the 60th Annual BMI Country Awards in Nashville The late Tom T. Hall, 85 (Wade Payne/AP)

By Charles Kim | Saturday, 21 August 2021 06:50 PM

Country Music Hall of Famer Tom T. Hall, 85, died Friday at his Franklin Tennessee home, his son, Dean, said in a post on Twitter.

"With great sadness, my father, Tom T. Hall, died this morning at his home in Franklin, Tennessee," the post said. "Our family asks for privacy during this difficult time."

Born on May 25, 1936, in Olive Hill, Kentucky, Hall rose to the top of the country music world as both a performer and songwriter during a career that spanned six decades, and included such hits as "Harper Valley P.T.A.," "I Love," and "That's How I Got to Memphis."

According to a Rolling Stone obituary, Hall, known as "the storyteller," began performing at a young age and played with the band "Kentucky Travelers" as a teenager.

He joined the U. S. Army in 1957 and was stationed in Germany where he sometimes performed on the Armed Services Radio Network.

When he returned home, he worked as a deejay in Virginia, where a publisher heard a song that he wrote, "D.J. for a Day," which became his first top 10 hit with singer Jimmy C. Newman.

Hall followed that up with his first number one hit on the Billboard charts, Johnnie Wright’s version of "Hello Vietnam."

Joining the Grand Ole Opry in 1971, Hall was amassing his own hit singles such as, "(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine," "I Love," and "Country Is."

"Tom T. Hall's masterworks vary in plot, tone and tempo, but they are bound by his ceaseless and unyielding empathy for the triumphs and losses of others," Kyle Young, CEO, Country Music Hall of Fame, and Museum said in the Rolling Stone article. "He wrote without judgment or anger, offering a rhyming journalism of the heart that sets his compositions apart from any other writer."

Perhaps his most remembered song, "Harper Valley P.T.A." recorded by Jeannie C. Riley, became a crossover hit on the pop charts as well as on the country charts.

The narrative of the mini skirt wearing widow addressing the school's parent group calling out their judgmental hypocrisy, spawned a movie and television series in the 1970s.

Hall was also a writer, penning several books including, "The Storyteller's Nashville," "The Laughing Man of Woodmont Cove," and "The Acts of Life."

The Williamson Memorial Funeral Home in Franklin, Tennessee, confirmed the death to The New York Times, but it does not have a listing for Hall, or an obituary posted on its site yet.