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Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette Songwriter Red Lane Dead at 76

Lane was a Nashville character, whose skydiving hobby led to a song recorded by Roger Miller

Red Lane

Songwriter Red Lane, who penned hits for Tammy Wynette and Merle Haggard, has died.

Country Music Hall of Fame/YouTube

Songwriter Red Lane, whose works have been recorded by Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Roger Miller, among many others, died Wednesday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 76.

A 1993 inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Lane was born Hollis Rudolph DeLaughter in Bogalusa, Louisiana. After high school and a stint in the Air Force as an aircraft engine mechanic, he began playing in nightclubs and performing in talent shows.

In 1971, Lane scored the first of four chart singles as a recording artist for RCA. “The World Needs a Melody” was his only Top 40 country hit. Also in the Seventies, he began parachute jumping out of airplanes, telling the Tennessean in 1975 that it was “the nearest mettle tester [he’d] ever experienced.” In addition to that hobby leading to a song recorded by Roger Miller — “(The Day I Jumped) From Uncle Harvey’s Plane” — his love of aircraft led Lane to earn his pilot’s license. For more than 30 years, the songwriter lived in a DC-8 passenger jet, which he had converted into a home just outside Nashville.

Some of Lane’s best-known songs included “‘Til I Get It Right,” a Number One hit in 1973 for Tammy Wynette, “My Own Kind of Hat,” recorded by Merle Haggard and later covered by Alan Jackson, “The Eagle,” recorded by Waylon Jennings, “Miss Emily’s Picture,” a Number Two hit for John Conlee in 1981, and “Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa,” recorded by Merle Haggard and later by George Strait.

Funeral arrangements for Lane have yet to be announced.

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