Wayne Carson, a prolific songwriter whose hits include the Elvis Presley classic Always On My Mind, has died aged 72.
Carson had numerous health issues, including diabetes, heart and gallstone problems, according to his wife Wyndi Harp Head.
“Our music community has lost an immense talent much too soon,” Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said.
Carson, a two-time Grammy winner, said he wrote Always On My Mind in 10 minutes at his kitchen table in Springfield in the United States and initially did not think the song needed a bridge.
Under pressure from his producer, he was sent to a piano and quickly came up with the song’s memorable bridge – two lines that begin, “tell me, tell me that your sweet love hasn’t died”.
Such speed in songwriting was common for Carson, who played piano, guitar, bass and percussion.
“A song ain’t nothing but a story waiting for somebody to tell it. It’s like putting one foot in front of the other”, he told music biographer Gary James.
Always On My Mind became a classic for Elvis, whose version was especially poignant as it came out shortly after his separation from wife Priscilla in 1972.
But Carson, along with two co-writers, then won Grammys for the song in 1983 after it became a hit for country giant Willie Nelson.
Other notable versions included a dance pop rendition by the Pet Shop Boys in 1987.
Born in Denver to parents who met working at a radio station, Carson was mostly associated with country music but developed a love of rock ‘n’ roll from a young age.
His first break came when Nashville fixture Eddy Arnold asked him to help write an additional verse for his song Somebody Like Me, which went to number one on the country chart in 1966.
Other hits by Carson, whose full name was Wayne Carson Thompson, included The Letter, a number one song in 1967 for Memphis soul-influenced rockers The Box Tops, and country singer Conway Twitty’s I See The Want To In Your Eyes.