On March 9, the songwriter died at the age of 73 at Macon Country General Hospital in Lafayette, Tennessee.
Wayne Kemp was born in Greenwood, Arkansas in 1941. His career began as a country music artist at the age of 22 when, in 1963, he toured the southwestern region of the United States. His reputation in the industry boomed as he shifted from guitar player to songwriter. When this switch took place, Kemp began working with distinguished artists George Jones and Red Sovine.
Performed by Jones, his song “Love Bug” topped the charts at No. 6 in 1965. Singer Conway Twitty also collaborated with Kemp and made a name for himself as a country singer with the hit songs “The Image of Me” (1968), “Next in Line” (1968), Darling You Know I Wouldn’t Lie” (1969), and “That’s When She Started to Stop Loving You” (1970).
In 1969 Kemp was picked up as a recording artist by Decca Records. For the next fifteen years, he recorded over 20 hits. His most renowned song from his time with Decca is “Honky Tonk White” (1973), which was featured on his album Kentucky Sunshine. The studio album peaked at No. 25 on Billboard Top Country Album chart.
After his partnership with Decca Records ended, Kemp worked with an array of artists such as Ricky Van Shelton, Bobby G. Rice, Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Hank Williams, Jr., Mickey Gilley, Faron Young, Jack Greene, Charlie Walker, Charlie Pride, and Doug Sahm. Kemp concluded his career with a final chart hit duet, “Red Neck and Over Thirty” (1986) featuring Rice.
In 1999, Kemp was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Wayne Kemp will be remembered as country music legend whose songs not only reached the hearts of thousands of fans, but also launched artists to fame.