Country Songwriter Hal Bynum Has Passed Away

Photo credit: The Tennessean

Award-winning Nashville songwriter and performing artist, Hal Bynum, passed away peacefully at age 87 after a prolonged battle with Alzheimer’s and final stroke. He was preceded in death by his beloved sister, Mary Jo Bynum Colegrove and his parents, Maggie Virginia Compton Bynum and Thomas Logan Bynum originally from Texas. He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Rebecca Jan Bynum; his sons, Scott Thomas Bynum of Farmington, New Mexico; Christopher David Bynum and his wife Elizabeth Stoel and their two daughters Sophie Mae and Stella Rose Bynum of Brooklyn, New York; and his nieces, Deborah Pecorelli of Sandy, Utah, and Dorenda Morse of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Hal was born on September 29, 1934, in Ralls Texas and began writing songs as a young man. He attended Texas Tech in Lubbock, served in the Navy aboard the USS Antietam aircraft carrier and was honorably discharged in 1959. His first recorded song, “I’m Hot to Trot,” was cut in 1953 by Terry Fell and by the early sixties, Hal had had songs cut by several top recording artists, including George Jones and Wynn Stewart. He moved to Nashville in 1968 and had a posthumous hit by Jim Reeves (Nobody’s Fool). He wrote for Charley Pride and later for Mary John Wilkins’ publishing company. During this time, he had songs recorded by Ernest Tubb, Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe, Waylon Jennings, Ray Price, Jeanne Pruitt, Ralph Stanley, Little Jimmy Dickens and many others.

Hal’s big break came in 1977 when Kenny Rogers recorded “Lucille,” a song Hal had begun writing while in the Navy and re-worked with Roger Bowling. “Lucille” earned both CMA and ACM song of the year awards. This was quickly followed by “There Ain’t No Good Chain Gang,” a duet by Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings (co-written with Dave Kirby) which was also covered by Merle Haggard. Hal had another number one hit in 1990, with “Chains,” co-written with Bud Reneau and recorded by Patty Loveless.

In the late 1990s, Hal began a second career as a spoken-word recording artist after recording an album produced by Jim Ed Norman on Warner Bros. Records entitled, If I Could Do Anything (1998). He followed that with two more albums on his own label, The Promise (2002) and An American Prayer (2004).

Of all his accomplishments, Hal was most proud of having performed on the Grand Ole Opry for several years, a dream he had had since childhood. Hal was a writer, first and foremost, who gave his life to country music and in the process touched the lives of many people throughout the world.

He was a deeply spiritual man who was dedicated to the Urantia Book and its teachings. He was truly a man who loved God. The family will gather at his home in Nashville to celebrate his life at a later date TBD. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Urantia Fellowship in his name.


13 Responses

  1. I am very sorry for your loss. I am glad to have met him in Nashville in 2010; he was a good man.

  2. Condolences to you and all the family, friends, and those who benefited from the expression of Hal Bynum’s attitude and talents. May we see his passing and funeral as a congratulatory graduation summa cum laude. May all those who knew him and of him serve as candles of gratitude and light

  3. Thank you everyone. Today is the third day. Hal will be re-awakening in the resurrection halls of Mansonia One today. All his suffering will be forgotten, and he will begin a new life of endless discovery and service just as he wished. I’ll miss him every day until we’re reunited on high.

  4. “… a new life of endless discovery…” Joy! “…standing in that Oklahoma sunshine, just got off the bus from another world…”

    1. I must be something like that. Did you know there was a Reggae version? Jamaican Sunshine. No kidding.

  5. My condolences, Rebecca. It was a privilege meeting Hal. Kristina and I will miss him though we knew him only a short while.

  6. To those left behind, May you share his many talents here on earth remembering his great big smile ! And never forget “The Promise “!
    Thank you to his family for sharing him with my family! Just imagining Dobie Gray and Hal Bynum sitting together is some comfort to my heart!

  7. My condolences to everyone who Hal touched, which were many. His music and spirit lives on, especially his songs which are meaningful and real. I am sorry that I was not able to meet Hal personally but through his lyrics I feel a connection, and I believe many others share this also. Were all on the same ship; Hal has now moved to a new section with great people, music, and a good view too.

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