Tom T. Hall, Country Hall of Fame Member, Dies at 85

Dubbed "The Storyteller," Hall wrote "Harper Valley PTA" and more.

Written by Chris Parton
Tom T. Hall, Country Hall of Fame Member, Dies at 85
Tom T. Hall. Photo Courtesy of B! Noticed Public Relations

Celebrated singer-songwriter and Country Music Hall of Fame member Tom T. Hall has passed away. Hall died Friday (August 20) at his home in Franklin, Tennessee. He was 85.

A talented artist best known for his song craft, Hall was dubbed “The Storyteller” for much of his career, owing to his skill with lyrical prose. His songs were often simple yet deep, revealing bits of human nature with soft-spoken, everyday language, and he is credited with some of the most famous story-telling songs in country history. Active since the 1960s, Hall had many awards to his credit and 12 Number Ones — including his enduring hit, “Harper Valley PTA” by Jeannie C. Riley.

A Kentucky native born in 1936, Hall was a veteran of the US Army and a radio DJ before his country career took off. He started as a musician playing in the bands of artists like fellow Hall of Famer Bobby Bare before becoming an artist, and while recording four albums of his own, penned songs for dozens of country stars.

Those who recorded songs by Tom T. Hall included Johnny CashGeorge JonesLoretta LynnWaylon Jennings and Alan Jackson, while Hall’s own hits included “That’s How I Got to Memphis” and “I Love.”

The singer-songwriter won awards from the Recording Academy (Grammys), the Country Music Association and more, and was a member of the Grand Ole Opry. In 2008 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was also an author, and was included on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of all time.

Hall’s friends and fellow artists are mourning his passing.

“I’m devastated at the loss of one of my oldest friends of 57 years, Tom T. Hall,” said Bobby Bare.
We were more than friends, he called me ‘Brother Bob’ and we had so much in common. We were both from the same part of the country with a similar childhood — but he was a brilliant storytelling songwriter, a trait I always recognized and admired. I think I recorded more Tom T. Hall songs than anyone! I just miss him a whole lot, there will never be another.”

“It is difficult to believe the Storyteller of our time is gone, his stories have been told and that is so hard to imagine, as we all want to hear more,” said Jeannie Seely. “If you listen to “I Love” you know Tom T,  and you also know that’s why HE was loved so much. He reminded us that those little things were so special, like little baby ducks. One of the treasures that I regret losing in the flood was a handwritten note to me from Tom T. for the ‘recipes’ I had written for the Animal Land Cookbook. He said it was a gift to be able to make someone laugh in one paragraph and cry in the next, and he should know because he did that often. The treasure I regret losing most of all is Tom T. Hall as he was truly a gift. It helps to know that today he is reunited with Miss Dixie and all the dogs they’ve ever loved.”

“Another good friend, another legend, Tom T. Hall has left us!” said Jerry Lee Lewis. “Tom T. was a true songwriter, The Storyteller was a great nickname for him because he really was the epitome of that. I am so glad I got to know this wonderful man. May he Rest In Peace and God Bless his family.”

“Tom T. Hall one of my favorite songwriters,” said Mickey Gilley. “Two of my favorite songs are ‘I Like Beer and ‘Shoeshine Man!’ Of course the masterpiece was ‘Harper Valley PTA,’ what an awesome song. He will be missed.”