Country accompanist Freddie Hart, a Apple War II adept who had a run of No. 1 hits in the aboriginal 1970s and won CMA, ACM and Grammy awards for his accident “Easy Loving,” died Saturday in Burbank at age 91.
Hart’s career amid several eras of country music, as he began his recording career as a California honky-tonker in the aboriginal 1950s but didn’t breach through until 1971, aback he had adopted the slicker “Nashville sound” of “Easy Loving,” which fabricated him a brilliant in his mid-40s. As the liner addendum for one of the Bear Ancestors label’s reissues of Hart actual noted, “Freddie had one of the longest and best backbreaking climbs to the top of any country music brilliant in history, accepting amorphous his recording career about twenty years earlier. Dozens of accomplished and admirable hillbilly, rockabilly and bean country singles and albums were issued afore Freddie would accept a above hit.”
Hart was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004, not aloof for his own hits but for the songs he had recorded by Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Buck Owens, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Porter Wagoner, Eddy Arnold, Carl Smith, Charlie Rich, Billy Walker, the Louvin Brothers and dozens of others. Aback it comes to his own career, though, he charcoal associated primarily with “Easy Loving,” which was so abundant Hart’s signature song that his latter-day promotional abstracts referred to him as “Mr. Easy Lovin’.”
“Easy Loving” was accepted abundant that it accomplished the attenuate account of acceptable the Country Music Association Award for best song two years in a row, in 1971 and 1972. (The alone added songs anytime to achieve that were “Always on My Mind” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”) Those were allotment of a bulk of awards that Hart won or was nominated for during his aboriginal ‘70s bartering peak, including a absolute of six CMA nominations over the advance of two years and a win at the Grammys for best country macho articulate Grammy in 1972.
The Academy of Country Music Awards were area he absolutely got his due. In 1972, he managed a ambit of all bristles categories he was nominated for, including the top one, Entertainer of the Year, forth with wins for distinct and song for “Easy Loving,” best anthology for the LP of the aforementioned name, and best macho vocalist. In all these categories, he exhausted out competitors who abide bigger accepted today, like Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Marty Robbins and Charley Pride.
Hart had bristles added No. 1 hits afterwards his advance with “Easy Loving” (which additionally fabricated the top 20 on the pop chart) — all of them in the years 1971-73. His aftermost top 10 hit was in 1977, and his aftermost song in country’s top 40 came in 1981. But he connected to almanac and bout about the apple into his 90s.
This year, Hart recorded a actuality album, “God Bless You,” produced by David Frizzell, brother of Lefty Frizzell, the country fable generally accustomed with advertent Hart in the aboriginal 1950s. Hart had reportedly been set to go in and assignment on overdubs for the activity afore falling ill a few months ago. The ambassador says this final anthology of Hart’s will appear out in 2019, although a Christmas distinct adopted from the project, “This Time of Year,” is set for absolution in November.
“I accept accepted Freddie Hart best of my activity acknowledgment to my brother, Lefty,” David Frizzell said in a statement. Aback Lefty helped Hart get his start, “I was aloof about 12 or 13 years old at the time. Aback I got my aboriginal almanac accord with Columbia at 18, my aboriginal distinct was a Freddie Hart song (“Love Baby”),” Frizzell added. “Freddie and I formed with the abundant Buck Owens in the aboriginal 70’s… One of my abundant ceremoniousness was accepting Freddie ask me to aftermath an album, which will now become his final recording. He heard the mix aloof the added night on the aboriginal distinct and he alleged it ‘beautiful,’ and aloof like Freddie himself, it is. The song (“This Time Of Year”) is a Christmas song to be appear in November… I am accustomed to accept been a allotment of this project, but added accustomed to accept alleged Freddie a constant friend. ‘Say Hello to Heaven’ for me, Freddie,” Frizzell said, referencing addition acclaimed country song.
Hart was built-in Frederick Segrest on December 21, 1926 in Lochopoka, Alabama, and became the self-described “black sheep” of 15 accouchement in a sharecropper’s family. He aboriginal ran away from home at 7, was beatific off by his parents to a Civilian Conservation Corps affected at 12 and, like abounding of his generation, aria about his age to get into the aggressive — at 14. Afterwards aing the Marine Corps, he served in Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Guam, additionally singing in a cardinal of servicemen’s clubs.
He confused to Nashville in 1949 and anon afterwards got his aboriginal cut as a songwriter, with “Every Little Thing Rolled Into One” by George Morgan. But his absolute breach came aback he met Lefty Frizzell in 1950 and was enlisted as his aperture act until 1953, at which point he larboard to accompany the casting of the L.A. country music TV appearance “Town Hall Party” for the aing three years. “I was added a allotment of the Bakersfield complete than the Nashville sound, although I dearly adulation both,” he told Cashbox Canada. “You know, we had the Opry in Nashville but not anybody knows that the Town Hall Party in California was the west bank sister of that show.”
He active with Capitol Records during his time touring with Frizzell and begin little antecedent success as a recording artisan — but had appreciably added as a biographer in ’54 aback Carl Smith heard his distinct “Loose Talk” and covered it, axis it into a No. 1 hit. Added than a decade later, “Skid Row Joe” became a No. 3 hit for Wagoner, alike as Hart spent the backward ‘50s and 1960s declining to blueprint any singles of his own in the top 20, with the barring of “Chain Gang,” which fabricated it to No. 17 in 1959.
But his fortunes afflicted badly at the alpha of the ‘70s, as he alternate to his aboriginal characterization home, Capitol, afterwards blocked stints with Columbia and Kapp. It was at this time that he additionally active to the publishing and administration companies of Buck Owens (who had a hit with Hart’s “Togetherness” as a affiliation with Susan Raye in 1970). The massive success of “Easy Loving” in 1971 was followed by bristles added No. 1 singles in quick assumption — “My Hang-Up is You,” “Bless Your Heart,” “Got the All Overs for You (All Over Me,” “Super Kind of Woman” and “Trip to Heaven.” His aing six singles afterwards that all fabricated country’s top 5.
Hart had started out with a rootsier complete and then, as the smoother Nashville complete came to the fore, rode that to the top, but fell out of favor as styles afflicted afresh in the backward ‘70s and 1980s. He remained accepted on the homesickness ambit both away and at home, while additionally diversifying his business interests. Among his added pursuits, he opened a alternation of aggressive arts studios, absorption his affection as a atramentous belt who reportedly accomplished karate to beginning LAPD cadets.
Although Hart is generally associated with west bank country, he had confused aback to his built-in Alabama afore accepting analysis at the end of his activity aback in California. Hart is survived by his wife of 61 years, Ginger and sons Freddie Jr., Andy, Joe and Victor. Funeral arrange are pending.
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