Mystery shrouds the death of acclaimed songwriter and producer Robert Byrne.

CMT reported that the body of Byrne was found at his Nashville home on June 26 and a memorial service was held in Music City on June 29.

But the PAY TV web page gave no further details of the cause of the premature death of the prolific writer who died on the eve of his 51st birthday.

Byrne wrote a brace of chart topping hits for major artists after working at legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in the seventies.

He had 293 songs credited to him on the BMI site the time of his death - six of those won prestige BMI Awards.

Byrne discovered and wrote hits for chart topping band Shenandoah after seeing them play at a Muscle Shoals club.

Byrne's songs also topped charts for artists diverse as Ronnie Milsap, Earl Thomas Conley, Lorrie Morgan, Mindy McCready, Phil Vassar and The Forester Sisters.

Alabama, Johnny Rivers, Helen Reddy, Dr. Hook, Roy Orbison, Mac Davis, Mickey Gilley, Captain and Tennille, The Osmonds, Englebert Humperdinck, Dottie West, The Carpenters, Thelma Houston, Anne Murray, Johnny Lee, and Gary Morris also recorded his songs.

He established his songwriter status by winning by the American Song Festival Grand Prix in 1977 with Bound To Know The Blues and 1978 with I'll Love Your Leavin' Away.

The late Wynn Stewart preceded that award by reaching #8 on the charts with Byrne song After The Storm in 1976.

Byrne made a solo album Blame It on the Night for Mercury in 1979 - it was soon deleted in the U.S. but released in Japan.


He was working as a producer and songwriter in Muscle Shoals when members of Shenandoah invited him to see them play at a local club.

Mike McGuire, Jim Seales and Stan Thorn started the band that played in clubs in Muscle Shoals.

When the bass player and lead vocalist left, they invited Marty Raybon and Ralph Ezell to join.

It was then Byrne heard the band at a local club and asked them to record a few tunes and test the waters with veteran producer Rick Hall.

Shenandoah's debut single, They Don't Make Love Like We Used To, went to #51 on the country charts.

It was followed by Stop The Rain, Mama Knows and The Church On Cumberland Road - the third hit from their second CBS album, The Road Not Taken.

Byrne wrote their hits Two Dozen Roses - #1 - 1989, She Doesn't Cry Anymore - #9 - 1988, When You Were Mine - #38 - 1991 See If I Care - #6 - 1990 and I Got You - #7 - 1991.


Byrne also penned chart toppers How Do I Turn You On and All Is Fair in Love and War for Ronnie Milsap and I Can't Win for Losin' You, Once in a Blue Moon, That Was a Close One and What I'd Say for Earl Thomas Conley.

He also penned hits I Didn't Know My Own Strength for Lorrie Morgan, Men for the Forester Sisters and A Girl's Gotta Do (What a Girl's Gotta Do) for Mindy McCready.

Byrne's collaboration with Phil Vassar was also fruitful.

They wrote his big hit Rose Bouquet, Lucky As Me and Like I Never Loved Before for his self titled 1991 disc and Forgettin's So Long for his 2002 album American Child.

Other hits - Half Past Forever for T G Sheppard - #2 in 1987, Save The Last Chance For Me - Johnny Lee - #12 in 1986, I'll Stop Loving You - Mike Reid - #23 in 1992 and Hold Me Like You Never Had Me - Randy Parton - #30 in 1981.

Songwriting partners included Teddy Gentry, Randy Scruggs, Troy Seals, Trey Bruce, Jim Collins, Tim Nicholls and Susan Longacre.


Byrne and Alan Schulman produced The Forester Sisters album Talkin' 'Bout Men for Warner Brothers in 1991.

The Foresters, from Lookout Mountain, Georgia, have released 14 albums in a career dating back to 1984.

Their last big hit was Byrne penned Men that reached #8 in 1991.

Queensland born and latter day NSW Central Coast country singer Gina Jeffreys also recorded Men on her Garth Porter produced 1995 album The Flame.

Forester Sisters

Byrne produced two albums by North Carolina singer Rick Bowles - Free For The Evening was released by Polydor in 1982.

He later produced his co-writer Bowles second album No Man's Land for Applause Records in 1984.

Byrne also played guitar and keyboards, sang background vocals, and co-wrote six songs on the disc.

He later produced albums by Florida singer Jennifer Day, 25, and Tim Briggs.

Day was just 20 when she released her debut single The Fun Of Your Love - also title track of her 2000 BMG album.

Byrne co-wrote three tunes on the disc including What If It's Me.

Day, a diminutive 5 ft 1 inch diva with a dynamic voice, moved to Nashville in 1997 at 18 from McAlpin, Florida.

She played the Grand Ole Opry and her songs graced Kevin Costner movie For Love of the Game and Ashley Judd film Where the Heart Is.
< Jennifer Day

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