Wayne Carson, a prolific songwriter best known for his award-winning “Always on My Mind,” died Monday (July 20) at age 72 from congestive heart failure and other ailments. Wayne was a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Born in Denver, Wayne moved to Nashville in 1962 and found his first major songwriting success with Eddy Arnold’s “Somebody Like Me,” a No. 1 hit in 1966. The following year, Memphis-based rock band The Box Tops took Wayne’s song “The Letter” to the top of the pop charts. “The Letter” became a rock and pop classic and was rerecorded several times, including versions by Joe Cocker, Al Green and Johnny Rivers.
Easily Wayne’s most awarded song was the tender ballad “Always on My Mind,” first recorded by Elvis Presley and Brenda Lee. The definitive version was cut by Willie Nelson, who turned it into a No. 1 country hit in 1982. “Always on My Mind” won the Country Music Association award for Song of the Year in 1982 and 1983 and copped Grammy awards in 1983 for the all-genre Song of the Year and Country Song of the Year. Wayne had often noted that he wrote most of “Always on My Mind” in about 10 minutes at his home in Springfield, Mo., and completed it with co-writers Johnny Christopher and Mark James.
Wayne wrote additional hits like “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles),” a No. 1 for Gary Stewart in 1975, “Neon Rainbow” and “Soul Deep” for The Box Tops and Conway Twitty’s 1974 No. 1, “I See the Want To in Your Eyes.” He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1997.
NASH Country Weekly sends our condolences to Wayne’s family.