Country music songwriter Harlan Howard, who co-wrote the Patsy Cline classic “I Fall to Pieces,” died on Sunday at age 74, according to industry publicist Tina Wright. He had been in ill health for several years. Howard, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, had more than 100 “Top Ten” hits during his career, which was kicked off in 1958 with “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down.”
His works were recorded not only by such country greats as George Jones, Buck Owens, Glen Campbell, Ray Price and Conway Twitty but also by more mainstream music stars such as Ray Charles, Joe Simon, Kay Starr and the Kingston Trio.
Howard once had 15 songs on the country charts at the same time and was named Billboard’s “Songwriter of the Year” in 1962 ad 1963.
One of the finest collections of his works was produced in 1967 when the late Waylon Jennings turned out the tribute disc “Waylon Sings Ol’ Harlan.”
Born in Detroit, Howard endured a childhood of foster homes and neglect, worked in a factory and wrote songs as a hobby before drifting to California where he met cowboy stars Tex Ritter and Johnny Bond. They signed him to their music publishing company. He moved to Nashville in 1960.