Had she merely been the person who bestowed the “Outlaw” name on the renegade music of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and others in the mid-Seventies, Hazel Smith would be regarded as one of country music’s most important non-performers. Smith, however, was much more than that. A publicist, songwriter, manager, journalist, radio and television host, cookbook author, tastemaker and trusted confidante to artists and others in the music business, Smith was country music’s larger-than-life matriarch, reigning for decades with quick wit, matronly wisdom and unbridled – and often side-splittingly hilarious – opinion. Hazel Smith died at her home in
A native of rural
Smith worked as a publicist for Nashville outliers Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, Tompall Glaser and
Smith would go on to be a personal assistant for Grand Ole Opry stars Ricky Skaggs and his wife, Sharon, then form a management company, all the while writing for Country Music magazine. She was also a contributor to other publications, including Country Weekly and Country Music Today magazine, and a popular syndicated radio personality, offering unique insider insight and homespun tales of country music artists she counted as close, personal friends, many of whom owe a measure of their success to Smith, including
A regular contributor to CMT.com and host of the CMT series Southern Fried Flicks, she also penned the Southern cookbook Hazel’s Hot Dish in 2001. Smith also became a favorite guest of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, sharing recipes and stories with the host. Among her career-spanning honors was 1999’s CMA Media Achievement Award.