The Past With A Personal Touch: Earl Bud Lee

Earl Bud Lee: Many years ago, I think it was the early 80s, Earl Bud Lee found his way to the house where Edna and I lived at the time on Walnut Street in Madison, Tenn. He wanted to write with me because I had attained some success in the music business as a country singer/songwriter. At the time I was an MGM recording artist, and I also had songs I had written that were recorded by Loretta Lynn, Con Hunley, Tom Jones and Gary Stewart, and I was not accustomed to writing with anyone. Yet, every other morning for some time, he was at my door wanting to write with me and wanting me to help him structure some of the lyrics in his songs. He was very persistent—something you must possess to be successful in the country music business—so I finally let him come in. He was a young man in his 20’s.

This was one of the greatest decisions I’ve made in Nashville. Bud became a good friend and some of the most beautiful melodies I have ever heard in my life came out of his soul and into my mind and heart forever. His lyrics were great too; however, some songs were at the time a little out of meter with a few too many throw away words. Bud was easy to work with and always eager to learn a new idea and a way to get things done properly. I’ve never taught anyone anything without learning something from them in the process. Believe you me, I’m sure I learned more from Earl Bud Lee than he ever learned from me.

Bud is certainly not a time waster, and he took his new-found knowledge and went for a long, hard walk down Music Row. It wasn’t long before Earl Bud Lee had a songwriting deal, and the big wigs on Music Row were taking notice and paying attention to this young man with the ideas rolling off the tip of his pen and the great melodies emanating from his heart and soul. Shortly thereafter, Bud showed his true genius to his friend, Dewayne Blackwell, and together they wrote one of country music’s classic songs, “I Got Friends in Low Places” for another new person on Music Row by the name of Garth Brooks. The rest is country music history. This song is requested and heard daily around the world. Garth never goes on stage without performing this song. He must do it, or his fans might riot and run him out of town. This kind of action only takes place when a song is more powerful than the artist. True, this does happen, but not very often in any genre of music. Yet, when it comes to Bud, it does not surprise me at all. If it can be done, Bud will find a way to do it.

Bud has since written hit songs for many great artists in the country music field and is still going strong. He, along with John Wiggins, wrote the great song, “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking,” that Blake Shelton recently recorded and took to No. 1. Blake did a fine job; however, I like the demonstration recording that they first did when John Wiggins did the vocal. I still play that cut at our house. Bud called a while back and invited Edna and I to the “Number One” party for that song at BMI. We met Blake there and a whole bunch of our friends.

I’m so pleased with Bud and John. Right in the middle of all this C.R.A.P. (Crazy Rock, Rap And Pop) coming out of Nashville these days that they try to pass off as Country music, these two country boys wrote a true country love song. I personally do not care what genre of music you prefer, but don’t try to pass it off to me as country music; I won’t buy it.

Edna and I keep in touch with Bud and the love of his life, Patsy, on a regular basis at a club we attend. They are a great couple and so happy together. Bud and Patsy will always have a place in our hearts. Edna and I are surely blessed to have them in the middle of our “circle of friends.” (Now you can laugh Bud.)

By Hank Beach