Dennis Linde, circa 2000
|Born||March 18, 1943|
Abilene, Texas, U.S.
|Died||December 22, 2006 (aged 63)|
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
|Instruments||Vocals, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, drums|
|Years active||c. 1970–2006|
|Associated acts||Elvis Presley, Dixie Chicks, Billy Swan|
Dennis Linde (pronounced LIN-dy, March 18, 1943 – December 22, 2006) was an American music songwriter based in Nashville who has had over 250 of his songs recorded. Rarely working with co-writers, he wrote both words and music for most of his songs. In 1994, Linde won BMI's "Top Writer Award" and received four awards as BMI's most-performed titles for that year. His wife and daughter collected the awards because Linde shunned awards shows and avoided publicity. He earned 14 BMI "Million-Air" songs (a song played on the air one million times). In 2001, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Linde died of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2006 at the age of 63.
He is best known for writing the 1972 Elvis Presley hit, "Burning Love", and he also wrote the top-5 U.S. country hits "Long Long Texas Road" (Roy Drusky, 1970), "The Love She Found in Me" (Gary Morris, 1983), "Walkin' a Broken Heart" (Don Williams, 1985), "Then It's Love" (Don Williams, 1986), "I'm Gonna Get You" (Eddy Raven, 1988), "In a Letter to You" (Eddy Raven, 1989), "Bubba Shot the Jukebox" (Mark Chesnutt, 1992), "It Sure Is Monday" (Mark Chesnutt, 1993), "Callin' Baton Rouge" (Garth Brooks, 1993), and "John Deere Green" (Joe Diffie, 1993). He also wrote "Goodbye Earl", a gold single for the Dixie Chicks in 2000.
Linde was born in Abilene, Texas, but lived in St. Louis from age 13 to age 26 (1956 to 1969). His stepfather was a sales executive with Colgate-Palmolive company. The family moved from Abilene to San Angelo, then Miami and finally St. Louis. His family was not especially musical, but they all loved to sing. "I didn't even start in music until I was 15, but I had a feeling I could play guitar", Linde told The New York Times in 2005. His grandmother had given him a guitar at that age and he taught himself to play. He joined a St. Louis group called the "Starlighters" playing R&B and rock. He graduated from St. Louis' Normandy High School about 1960. He did not attend college and knew he was a prime candidate for the military draft. He enlisted in the Missouri Air National Guard.
Linde drove a Corvette and at age 24 he had so many speeding tickets that his driver's license was revoked. At this time he had a job driving a delivery truck for a dry cleaning company. Without his license he could not drive the truck, so he lost his job. At home with time on his hands, he played guitar, worked out arrangements, and began writing songs. Linde played in a band with St. Louis bandleader Bob Kuban[a] who saw promise in Linde's songwriting abilities, and suggested he explore songwriting in Nashville. Linde visited there several times and pitched his songs to Bob Beckham, the CEO of Combine Music Publishing. In those days, writers from out of town sometimes stayed at Beckham's home. On one of his several visits, Linde caught the eye of Beckham's daughter Pam, who happened home from college. A romance was struck and Linde made the move to Nashville in 1969 to work for Combine. Love blossomed and the two were married in 1970. They subsequently had three children, Lisa, Will and Katie.
Linde found a perfect fit at Combine— it allowed him to flourish alongside writers and artists like Dolly Parton and Mickey Newbury.[b] Linde said, "Bob Beckham's building at Combine was a rickety old two-story place, and Kris [Kristofferson] lived in an upstairs room next door. I just had never run into so many talented people". After writing for Combine for about a year, his first major hit was "Long Texas Road" recorded by Roy Drusky. That same year, 1970, Roger Miller recorded Linde's "Tom Green County Fair".
The following year he wrote "Burning Love" which became a worldwide hit when recorded by Elvis Presley. The song was written, Linde said, "on a lark". He had just bought a set of drums and was putting a drum track on tape at his home studio, sort of learning to play them, and the words and melody came to him. He then overdubbed the other instruments and vocals on his four-track machine (he played and sang all parts) and created a demo of the song. He completed it in 20 minutes. He credits the inspiration in part to the fact that he was a newlywed at the time and said " 'Burning Love' was a great newlywed title". The first singer to record it was Arthur Alexander on the Warner Brothers label in late 1971. Alexander was a fellow songwriter at Combine at the time; his album contained three other Linde compositions. Soon after Alexander's, Elvis Presley released a version which eclipsed it quickly— Presley's making the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic and scarcely missed becoming No. 1 in the U.S. in October 1972. It was Presley's last major hit. The song's worldwide success greatly increased Combine's profitability as well as Linde's stature as a songwriter. Elvis recorded two more of Linde's compositions, "I got a Feelin' in my Body" and "For the Heart".
In the 1970s, Linde continued his desire to be a recording artist as well as a writer, doing non-country albums of things that he liked, sometimes experimental. He recorded the album "Linde Manor " on the Intrepid Label, a short-lived subsidiary of Mercury, but it was not a commercial success. The increased stature he found with "Burning Love" gave him sufficient credibility for a new deal with Elektra to record "Dennis Linde " in 1973. He then recorded "Trapped in the Suburbs " on Asylum records in 1974. His most critically acclaimed album was "Under the Eye " for Monument in 1977. He was co-leader of the rock band "Jubal " consisting of Alan Rush, Rob Galbraith, Terry Dearmore, and Randy Cullers. Their single album in 1972 on Elektra was not successful.
In 2000, his song for the Dixie Chicks, "Goodbye Earl", stirred some controversy for its take on spousal abuse. The song is about fictional characters Mary Ann and Wanda, longtime friends who kill Wanda's abusive husband. The issue critics had was that the two women were happy about their committing the murder, unlike any previous songs of that type. Many radio stations refused to play the song when first released, and others played it with a message directing women in such a situation to a hotline number. Linde wrote other songs featuring an undesirable character named Earl; e.g., "Queen of my Double-Wide Trailer" (Sammy Kershaw). Linde had a map on his wall depicting a fictional town where the characters in his songs lived. It includes the water tower referred to in "John Deere Green" as well as the spot where "Earl" finally met his end.
In 1994, Linde won BMI's "Top Writer Award" and received four awards as BMI's most-performed titles for that year: "It Sure Is Monday" (Mark Chesnutt), "Janie Baker's Love Slave" (Shenandoah), "John Deere Green" (Joe Diffie), and "Queen of My Double Wide Trailer" (Sammy Kershaw). Although Linde was the sole composer of most of his songs, he occasionally collaborated with country artist Mel McDaniel and Nashville songwriters Bob DiPiero and Alan Rush. As a music producer, Linde was responsible for Mickey Newbury's American Trilogy and Kristofferson's Jesus was a Capricorn. He also wrote two songs for the soundtrack of the 1982 film, Grease 2 ; these were "Cool Rider" and "Reproduction". "Burning Love" has been on the soundtrack of at least five motion pictures, including Heartbreak Hotel (sung by Dennis Linde, 1988), Late for Dinner (by Elvis, 1991), Honeymoon in Vegas (by Travis Tritt, 1992), Love, Honor & Obey (by Kathy Burke & Ray Burdis, 2001), Lilo and Stitch (by Wynonna,2003).
Linde was known as one of the more reclusive figures on the Nashville scene, rarely attending industry events and preferring to be neither photographed nor interviewed. Chicago Tribune music writer Jack Hurst said, "[Linde] is no morose, unkempt hermit inhabiting some artistic garret". Rather, Linde was upbeat, jovial and nattily dressed, living in a custom-built suburban home. Nashville manager Scott Siman described Linde as a "mystery man," explaining, "If you ever saw Dennis Linde, it was amazing, because you didn't get that opportunity very often." Linde had bizarre challenges for himself; i.e., daring himself to write a song starting with every letter in the alphabet, leading to the creation of "X Marks The Spot" and "Zoot Suit Baby".
Linde's daughter, Mary Elizabeth, called "Lisa" (Days of Our Lives, The Darkling) married Hollywood actor James Marsden (X-men, 27 Dresses). The couple sponsored a benefit for the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis in 2009 to honor Dennis Linde, entitled "A Night of Burnin' Love" that included Rascal Flatts, Montgomery Gentry and Mark Chesnutt and others. Lisa Linde filed for divorce in 2011 after ten years of marriage.
- 1970 – Linde Manor
- 1971 – Surface Noise (unreleased)
- 1973 – Dennis Linde (Elektra)
- 1974 – Trapped in the Suburbs
- 1977 – Under the Eye (Monument)
List of compositions
- In 1966, after Linde had left the band, "Bob Kuban & the In-Men" had a No. 12 hit on Billboards Hot 100 with a song called "The Cheater". They were described by a reviewer as a "classic one-hit wonder top 40 group".
- Newbury was not a Combine writer, but spent much of his time at the Combine office. He wrote for Acuff-Rose.
- Orr, Jay. Compiled by the staff of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum ; edited by Paul Kingsbury, Michael McCall, and John W. Rumble ; with the assistance of Michael Gray and Jay Orr (2012). The Encyclopedia of Country Music : the ultimate guide to the music (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-539563-1. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
- Sweetland, Phil (January 1, 2007). "Dennis Linde, 63, Hit Songwriter, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- Roland, Tom (October 5, 1994). "Linde: He's unknown but his songs aren't". The Tennessean. 90 (278). p. 1-D. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- "Inductees | Dennis Linde". Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
- Ankeny, Jason. "Dennis Linde/Artist biography". AllMusic. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
- Sweetland, Phil (September 25, 2005). "Signposts for a Songwriter". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
- Hurst, Jack (January 2, 1994). "Happy in the shadows". Chicago Tribune. pp. 8–9, Section 13. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
- Collins, Ace (2005). Untold gold : the stories behind Elvis's #1 hits (1 ed.). Chicago: Chicago Review Press. p. 226. ISBN 1-55652-565-6. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
- "Bob Kuban & the In-Men". AllMusic. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
- Perrone, Pierre (December 26, 2006). "Dennis Linde". The Independent. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "Songwriter penned hits for Elvis, Dixie Chicks". Chicago Tribune. 160 (358). December 24, 2006. p. 6, Sect. 4. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
- Harvey, Lynn (February 11, 1976). "Dennis Linde: Music Mysterious as the Man". The Tennessean. 70 (310). p. 39. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- Sawyer, Bobbie Jean. "The Story Behind the Dixie Chicks' Controversial Hit 'Goodbye Earl'". wideopencountry.com. WOS, Inc. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- Lewis, Randy (April 1, 2000). "'Earl' Creates Heat--and Heated Debate". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "Don Williams Takes A Walk Through Country Heights". The Tennessean. 79 (352). March 10, 1985. p. 55. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
- Fawthrop, Peter. "Grease 2 (Original Soundtrack)/Review". AllMusic. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "Heartbreak Hotel/Original Soundtrack/Track listing". AllMusic. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- "Lilo and Stitch/Original Soundtrack/Track listing". AllMusic. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- Miller, Stephen (2009). Kristofferson: The Wild American (Chapter 7). London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-109-7. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
- Moore, Lucy (July 22, 2000). "Celebrity Wedding Anniversary: James Marsden and Lisa Linde 22/7/2000". femalefirst.co.uk. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- "Swampland Remembers and Salutes Nashville Songwriter Dennis Linde". swampland.com. February 25, 2009. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- "James Marsden's Wife Files for Divorce". People Magazine. September 30, 2011. Retrieved May 9, 2018.