Bob McDill is an artist. In a business where hyperbole is too often the norm, Bob McDill is recognized by peers, critics and fans as an artist who has reached the peak of commercial success without sacrificing the integrity of his craft –success that has seen McDill named the Nashville Songwriters Association “Songwriter of the Year” in 1976, 1985 and 1989, BMI “Songwriter of the Year” in 1977, 1980, and 1985, ASCAP “Songwriter of the Year” in 1994 and “Songwriter of the Year” three times by leading industry trade journals. He has four times been nominated for a Grammy, was made a member of the Nashville Songwriters Association Hall of Fame in 1985, and has written thirty #1 songs.
Born April 5, 1944 near Beaumont, Texas, McDill grew up being exposed to the diverse cultural and musical influences of the gulf coast. His education began at the three room elementary school he attended in the tiny hamlet of Cheek, Texas. Viola lessons at the age of eight marked his formal introduction to music. Following high school, McDill attended Lamar University and then joined the naval reserve, serving two years at sea.
At the age of 23, he scored his first hit with Perry Como’s recording of “Happy Man.” This was followed the next year with Sam The Sham and The Pharoes hit version of “Black Sheep.”
Following his Navy discharge, McDill moved to Memphis to write rock songs and possibly perform. The collapse of the Memphis pop market and a view of a taped performance of himself on T.V. (“I wondered who that oaf was, realized it was me and gave up performing.”) sent him to Nashville. He began focusing on country music and on writing rather than performing, (though he did record an album much sought after by collectors today called “Short Stories”) and began focusing on writing a kind of country music independent of cliches and formula but still commercially acceptable.
In 1973, McDill’s devotion and discipline paid off when Johnny Russell took his Catfish John high up the charts. Shortly after “Catfish John,” came the first of McDill’s number one hits with Russell’s Red Necks, White Socks And Blue Ribbon Beer and the first of more than a dozen Don Williams singles (including eight number ones), Come Early Morning backed with Amanda.
Impressive as the quantity and the quality of McDill’s successes may be, more impressive is the number of years over which he has spread them. The entertainment industry is characterized by streaks, fads and careers that are short-lived at the top. McDill’s performance is the equivalent of an author writing a critically acclaimed best seller twice a year for nearly two decades.
McDill has prospered in, and outlasted every phase that country music has passed through since the early ’70′s. His number one records alone show this versatility: Don Williams’ Say It Again, Falling Again, She Never Knew Me, (Turn Out The Light And) Love Me Tonight, Rake And Ramblin’ Man, It Must Be Love, Good Ole Boys Like Me, If Hollywood Don’t Need You; Crystal Gayle’s You Never Miss A Real Good Thing (Till He Says Goodbye), I’ll Do It All Over Again; Ronnie Milsap’s Why Don’t You Spend The Night and Nobody Likes Sad Songs; Waylon Jennings’ Amanda; Johnny Russell’s Red Necks, White Socks And Blue Ribbon Beer; Dave & Sugar’s The Door Is Always Open; John Schneider’s I’ve Been Around Enough To Know; Mel McDaniel’s Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On, Right In The Palm Of Your Hand; Dan Seals’ Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold) and Big Wheels In The Moonlight; Earl Thomas Conley’s What She Is (Is A Woman In Love) and We Believe In Happy Endings; Keith Whitley’s Don’t Close Your Eyes; Conway Twitty’s I’ve Never Seen The Likes Of You; Alabama’s Song Of The South; Doug Stone’s In A Different Light and Why Didn’t I Think Of That; Sammy Kershaw’s She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful; If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too) by Shenandoah and Alan Jackson’s Gone Country which was a final nominee for CMA Song Of The Year in 1995. The popular All The Good Ones Are Gone by PamTillis garnered him 1997 CMA and ACM Song Of The Year nominations and a 1998 Grammy nomination for Best Country Song. Alan Jackson’s take on the McDill classic “It Must Be Love” went to the top of the charts in 2000, giving him his 31st #1 hit.
Additionally, McDill’s songs have been recorded by artists as diverse as, Lefty Frizzell, Joe Cocker, Juice Newton, Ray Charles, the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, and Chubby Checker. He has won countless awards in recognition of songs achieving extensive radio play. He has been nominated five times as finalist for the Country Music Association’s “Song of the Year” Award. He has lectured at various universities on songwriting and southern literature and was named a distinguished alumnus of Lamar University in 1989. His biography appears in “Who’s Who In The South And Southwest,” and “Who’s Who In The World.” He was included as both writer and artist on RCA Records’ salute to songwriters album, “Signatures.” He is a publisher as well as a writer, a collector (and reader) of first editions and is a sportsman and traveler. But most of all, he is an artist.