BMI Award-winning songwriter Max D. Barnes, co-writer of such classics as "Chiseled In Stone," "Look at Us" and "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," died January 11 of pneumonia at Baptist Hospital in Nashville. He was 67.
One of Music City's most respected and honored writers - and a favorite writing partner of Harlan Howard, Merle Haggard and Vince Gill - Barnes provided hits to country music legends like George Jones, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Vern Gosdin, Randy Travis, Keith Whitley and Waylon Jennings, during a career that lasted nearly 40 years.
Born July 24, 1936, in Hardscratch, Iowa, Max Duane Barnes grew up in Nebraska. After leaving school at 16, he began singing in an Omaha nightclub. He later formed his own band, the Golden Rockets; their lead singer, Patsy, eventually became his wife and a songwriting collaborator.
His first songwriting success came in 1966 when Tree Music published his "Uncanny Connie From Calgary." He moved to Nashville in 1973 and saw his career take off in 1974 when Charley Pride recorded two of his songs.
At the 1992 BMI Country Awards presentation to "Look At Us": David Conrad, Vince Gill, Mary Del Scobey, Roger Sovine, Chris Oglesby, Max D. Barnes, Frances Preston, Lance Freed
In 1979, Conway Twitty delivered Barnes his first #1 with "Don't Take It Away." Other hits included "I Can't Love You Enough" (for Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty), "Red Neckin' Love Makin' Night" (Twitty), "Look at Us" (Vince Gill), "Thank God For the Radio" (The Kendalls), "Joe Knows How To Live" (Eddy Raven), "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes" (George Jones), "I Won't Need You Anymore" and "If I Didn't Have You" (Randy Travis), "Ten Feet Away" (Keith Whitley) "Don't Tell Me What to Do" (Pam Tillis), "I've Got It Made" (John Anderson), "Chiseled In Stone," "If You're Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do It Right)" and "This Ain't My First Rodeo" (Vern Gosdin).
He was a two-time winner of the Country Music Association's prestigious Song of the Year prize: in 1998 for "Chiseled In Stone," co-written with Gosdin and inspired by the death of Barnes' elder son, Duane, in 1975, and in 1992 for "Look At Us," co-written with Gill. He was inducted to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992.
Barnes is survived by his wife, Patsy, daughter, Genevieve Kephart, and son, Max T. Barnes, who is also a songwriter.
Visitation hours are from 2 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, January 14, at the Hendersonville (Tenn.) Memory Gardens Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held Thursday, January 15, at 11 a. m. at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville. Burial will be in the Hendersonville Memory Gardens.
BMI Awards List
"Chiseled In Stone" - 1989 Country Award
"Don't Take It Away" - 1980 Country Award
"Don't Tell Me What To Do" - 1982 Country Award/Million-Air (2 million)
"Drinkin' And Dreamin'" - 1986 Country Award
"I Can t Love You Enough" - 1978 Country Award
"I've Got It Made" - 1995 Country Award/Million-Air
"I Won't Need You Anymore" - 1988 Country Award/Million-Air
"If I Didn't Have You" - 1993 Country Award/Million-Air (2 million)
"Joe Knows How To Live" - 1989 Country Award/Million-Air
"Let Go Of The Stone" - 1993 Country Award/Million-Air
"Look At Us" -- 1992 Country Award/Million-Air (2 million)
"Love Ten Feet Away" - 1987 Country Award
"Red Neckin' Love Makin' Night" -- 1982 Pop Award/1982 Country Award
"Thank God For The Radio" - 1985 Country Award
"That Just About Does It" - 1990 Country Award
"Way Down Deep" - 1984 Country Award
"Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes" - 1987 Country Award
"Do You Believe Me Now" - Million-Air