Singer-songwriter and Grand Ole Opry member Hal Ketchum, who had numerous hits throughout the Nineties including “Small Town Saturday Night,” “Hearts Are Gonna Roll” and “Sure Love,” has retired from performing after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
In a Facebook post from the musician’s wife Andrea, she noted, “He has been battling this for some time now, but because of his love for his fans, he continued performing as long as it was possible… Dementia is an exhausting and confusing illness and now it’s time for Hal to stay home with loved ones.”
On April 9th, 1998, on his 45th birthday, Ketchum was diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis, a neurological disorder related to multiple sclerosis, which causes an enlargement of the base of the spinal cord. After months of physical therapy, Ketchum was once again able to walk, play guitar and perform live. His most recent album, I’m the Troubadour, was released in 2014.
A native of Greenwich, New York, Ketchum, then billed as Hal Michael Ketchum, moved to Austin, Texas, in 1981, where he would record his first LP, Threadbare Alibis, which led to a publishing deal and a move to Nashville. Ketchum’s 1991 debut LP for Curb Records, Past the Point of Rescue, sold in excess of 600,000 copies, earning him a gold record. All four singles released from it reached country’s Top 20, including a cover of the Vogues’ 1965 hit “Five O’Clock World,” written by Nashville songwriter-producer Allen Reynolds. The 1992 follow-up album, Sure Love, scored three Top Tens, including the Number Two single “Mama Knows the Highway.” This was followed two years later by the critically lauded Every Little Word, with the Top Ten ballad “Stay Forever.”
Ketchum, now 66, relocated to Texas after the release of his final Curb album, Father Time, in 2008. In October 2018, he made his final live concert appearance at the legendary Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas, where he often performed.