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This Week in Texas Music History: Leon Payne

Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll follow a songwriter down country music’s “lost highway.”

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.

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On May 17, 1922, Leon Payne entered the Texas School for the Blind in Austin. Born without sight in Alba, Texas, in 1912, Payne performed with Bob Wills and others before establishing himself as a talented songwriter. He penned a number of tunes for such prominent artists as George Jones, Elvis Presley and Jim Reeves. However, Leon Payne may be best remembered for writing one of Hank Williams, Sr.’s biggest hits, “Lost Highway.”

Leon Payne died in 1969. In 1971, country music legend and fellow Texan George Jones recorded an entire tribute album of Payne’s songs. In 1997, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll learn about the first-and-only four-way-hit songwriter.