Hal Ketchum

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Hal Ketchum
Ketchum performing in 2008
Ketchum performing in 2008
Background information
Birth nameHal Michael Ketchum[1]
Born(1953-04-09)April 9, 1953
Greenwich, New York, U.S.
DiedNovember 23, 2020(2020-11-23) (aged 67)
Fischer, Texas, U.S.
  • Vocals
  • Acoustic guitar
Years active1986–2019

Hal Michael Ketchum (April 9, 1953 – November 23, 2020) was an American country music artist. He released eleven studio albums from 1986 to 2014, including nine for divisions of Curb Records. Ketchum's 1991 album Past the Point of Rescue was his most commercially successful, having been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. Between 1991 and 2006, Ketchum had 17 entries on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, including three that reached No. 2, "Small Town Saturday Night", "Past the Point of Rescue", and "Hearts Are Gonna Roll". Ketchum's music is defined by his songwriting and folk music influences. Ketchum retired from the music business in 2019 following a diagnosis of dementia.


Ketchum was born in Greenwich, New York.[1] At the age of 15, he began performing in clubs as a drummer with a rhythm and blues trio. In 1981, Ketchum moved to Austin, Texas, where he began to visit Gruene Hall, a small dance hall outside New Braunfels, a town about 60 miles south of Austin. This influenced him to try his hand at singing and songwriting, and by 1985 he was playing at small Texas clubs. Ketchum was a finalist in the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Singer-Songwriter Contest in 1985 and was named one of six winners in 1986.[2] In 1986, Ketchum recorded 11 of his self-penned songs under his full name Hal Michael Ketchum. This album, Threadbare Alibis, was released in 1988 on the Watermelon Records label.[1]

Ketchum then moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and signed a record deal with Curb Records. In 1991, Ketchum released his Curb debut album Past the Point of Rescue. Four singles were released from the album: "Small Town Saturday Night" was first, achieving a peak of number two on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.[3] After it came Ketchum's own composition "I Know Where Love Lives", which charted at number thirteen. Also peaking at number two was the title track, written by Irish musician Mick Hanly and originally a hit single in Ireland for Mary Black in 1988. The last single from the album was a rendition of The Vogues' "Five O'Clock World", which Ketchum took into top 20 of Hot Country Songs in 1992.[3] Allen Reynolds, a producer best known for his work with Crystal Gayle, Garth Brooks and Kathy Mattea, produced the album with Jim Rooney. Among the musicians contributing to the album were Mattea, Gary Burr, and Richard Bennett, as well as Bruce Bouton, Chris Leuzinger, and Milton Sledge of Brooks' studio band The G-Men.[4] Alanna Nash of Entertainment Weekly rated the album "A-", stating that "Literate and tuneful, Past the Point of Rescue balances poetic love songs with a squint-eyed look at teenage rebellion, romance, and psychological intrigue, all delivered with a tenor that throbs with passion and conviction."[5] Past the Point of Rescue was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for U.S. shipments of 500,000 copies.[6]

He released the album Sure Love in 1992. The album's title track charted at number three on Hot Country Songs, followed by "Hearts Are Gonna Roll" also at number two and "Mama Knows the Highway" at number eight, while the last single "Someplace Far Away (Careful What You're Dreaming)" was less successful on the charts.[3]

In 1994, Ketchum released the album Every Little Word. Five singles were issued from the album. Ketchum wrote the first two singles, "(Tonight We Just Might) Fall in Love Again" and "That's What I Get for Losin' You", with former NRBQ member Al Anderson. These peaked at numbers 20 and 22 on Hot Country Songs in 1994, respectively.[3] After it came Ketchum's last top-ten hit "Stay Forever", which he wrote with Benmont Tench; the title track and its B-side, "Trail of Tears", both fell short of the top 40.[3] Ketchum was also inducted as the 71st Member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1994.[3][7][8]

Two years later came a greatest-hits package titled The Hits. This album included the non-charting single "Hang In There Superman". Ketchum did not appear on the charts again until 1998, when he reached number 36 with a cover of Todd Rundgren's "I Saw the Light", from his next album, also titled I Saw the Light.[3] Awaiting Redemption, followed in 1999 without a charting single.

He covered "If I Never Knew You" with Shelby Lynne for The Best of Country Sing the Best of Disney. In 2001, Ketchum released Lucky Man. This album included only one charting single in the number 40 "She Is".[3] King of Love followed in 2004 with only the number 60 "My Love Will Not Change" to its credit. One More Midnight, released only in the United Kingdom, produced a number 47 country hit in the United States with "Just This Side of Heaven (Hal-Lelujah)", although the album never was released in the United States.[3] His most recent United States releases are Father Time in 2008, and I'm the Troubadour in 2014.

In total, Ketchum had six Billboard top 10 singles and sold five million albums. After he moved to Texas in 2010, he played in theaters and spaces including The Birchmere and Eddie's Attic. He played his last show at Gruene Hall.[9]

Acting career[edit]

Ketchum appeared in the 1988 film Heartbreak Hotel. Ketchum also made a cameo appearance as a bank robber in the 1994 film Maverick.

Musical styles[edit]

Ron Wynn, reviewing Past the Point of Rescue for AllMusic, wrote that Ketchum "writes simple, sometimes moving songs about relationships and/or life's dilemmas, and communicates them in an attractive, unadorned vocal package" and said that his "delivery, as well as the arrangements and sensibility, lean toward easy listening pop and light folk."[10] Also reviewing the same album, Mike Curtin of The Post-Star described Ketchum as having a "plaintive tenor voice" with comparisons to Roy Orbison and Lyle Lovett.[11]

Personal life and death[edit]

In June 1998, Ketchum was diagnosed with a neurological disorder called acute transverse myelitis, an ailment of the spinal column, which left Ketchum without the use of the left side of his body.[12] This forced him to relearn basic tasks, including how to walk and play the guitar.

Ketchum was also a painter and his work has been displayed at Pena Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he had an opening in 2002. He was also a master carpenter and enjoyed building toys.[13]

On April 14, 2019, Ketchum's wife, Andrea, announced on his Facebook page that early-onset senile dementia including Alzheimer's disease had progressed to the point that he could no longer perform.[14] Ketchum died at his home in Fischer, Texas, due to complications of dementia, on November 23, 2020, at the age of 67.[15][16]


Hal Ketchum discography
Studio albums11
Compilation albums2
Music videos13

Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
US Country
US Heat
CAN Country
Threadbare Alibis
Past the Point of Rescue 45 6 2
Sure Love
  • Release date: September 22, 1992
  • Label: Curb Records
151 36 21
Every Little Word
  • Release date: May 31, 1994
  • Label: MCG/Curb Records
146 31
I Saw the Light
  • Release date: May 19, 1998
  • Label: MCG/Curb Records
Awaiting Redemption
  • Release date: May 18, 1999
  • Label: Curb Records
Lucky Man
  • Release date: September 4, 2001
  • Label: Curb Records
King of Love
  • Released: January 20, 2003
  • Label: Curb Records
One More Midnight
Father Time
  • Release date: September 9, 2008
  • Label: Asylum-Curb Records
I'm the Troubadour[20]
  • Release date: October 7, 2014
  • Label: Music Road Records
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released

Compilation albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak positions
US Country
The Hits
  • Release date: May 7, 1996
  • Label: MCG/Curb Records
Greatest Hits
  • Release date: May 6, 2008
  • Label: Asylum-Curb Records
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released



Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US Country
US Bubbling
CAN Country
1991 "Small Town Saturday Night" 2 Past the Point of Rescue
"I Know Where Love Lives" 13 15
1992 "Past the Point of Rescue" 2 1
"Five O'Clock World" 16 21
"Sure Love" 3 6 Sure Love
1993 "Hearts Are Gonna Roll" 2 6
"Mama Knows the Highway" 8 14
"Someplace Far Away (Careful What You're Dreaming)" 24 6
1994 "(Tonight We Just Might) Fall in Love Again" 20 17 Every Little Word
"That's What I Get for Losin' You" 22 23
1995 "Stay Forever" 8 24 10
"Every Little Word" 49 55
"Veil of Tears" 56
1996 "Hang In There Superman"[24] The Hits
"I Miss My Mary"[25][a]
1998 "I Saw the Light" 36 21 50 I Saw the Light
"When Love Looks Back at You"[26]
1999 "Awaiting Redemption" Awaiting Redemption
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released


Year Single Peak positions Album
US Country
2000 "She Is" 40 Lucky Man
2001 "Don't Let Go"
"Two of the Lucky Ones" (with Dolly Parton)
2002 "Richest Man in Texas"
"Every Time I Look in Your Eyes" The King of Love
2004 "My Love Will Not Change" 60 N/A
2006 "Just This Side of Heaven (Hal-lelujah)" 47 One More Midnight
2007 "In Front of the Alamo" (with LeAnn Rimes)
"One More Midnight"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released

Guest singles[edit]

Year Single Artist Album
1994 "For Today" Charley Pride My 6 Latest & 6 Greatest
2001 "Keep Mom and Dad in Love" Lisa Brokop Undeniable
  1. ^ "I Miss My Mary" was originally recorded on Past the Point of Rescue, but was issued as a single from The Hits.

Music videos[edit]

Year Video Director
1991 "Small Town Saturday Night" Senor McGuire
1992 "I Know Where Love Lives" Richard Kooris
"Past the Point of Rescue" Steve Boyle
"Sure Love" Senor McGuire
1993 "Mama Knows the Highway" Dick Buckley
1994 "For Today" (with Charley Pride) Tom Denolf
"(Tonight We Just Might) Fall in Love Again"[27] Sherman Halsey
1995 "Stay Forever" Jim Shea
1996 "Hang in There Superman" Jim McGuire
1998 "I Saw the Light" Jim Shea
2001 "Keep Mom and Dad in Love" (with Lisa Brokop)
"She Is"
2007 "In Front of the Alamo" Glenn Sweitzer


  1. ^ a b c d Brennan, Sandra. "Hal Ketchum Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved January 7, 2008.
  2. ^ https://www.kerrvillefolkfestival.org/history-of-newfolk. Retrieved December 5, 2020. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Whitburn, Joel (2017). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2017. Record Research, Inc. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-89820-229-8.
  4. ^ Past the Point of Rescue (cassette). Hal Ketchum. Burbank, California: Curb Records. 1991. D4-77450.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  5. ^ Alanna Nash (September 27, 1991). "Past the Point of Rescue review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  6. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum – August 23, 2010: Hal Ketchum certified albums". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
  7. ^ "Hal Ketchum". Grand Ole Opry. Retrieved July 2, 2012.
  8. ^ "Opry Member List PDF" (PDF). April 23, 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 7, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2012.
  9. ^ Schudel, Maatt (November 27, 2020). "Hal Ketchum, country singer-songwriter of 'Small Town Saturday Night' dies at 67". Washington Post.
  10. ^ "Past the Point of Rescue". AllMusic. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  11. ^ Mike Curtin (August 23, 1992). "Hal Ketchum's impressive 'Rescue'". The Post-Star. pp. C2. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  12. ^ "Back Talk". People.com. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  13. ^ "GAC: Hal Ketchum Biography". Gactv.com. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  14. ^ Stefano, Angela. "Hal Ketchum Reveals Alzheimer's Disease Diagnosis". The Boot. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  15. ^ Farrell, Paul (November 24, 2020). "Hal Ketchum Dead: Country Singing Icon Dies at 67 After Battle With Dementia". Heavy.com. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  16. ^ Blackstock, Peter (November 24, 2020). "Hal Ketchum, renowned Texas singer-songwriter, dies at 67". austin360.com. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  17. ^ a b c d "allmusic ((( Hal Ketchum > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Allmusic. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
  18. ^ "Results – RPM – Library and Archives Canada: Country Albums/CDs". RPM. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
  19. ^ "American album certifications – Hal Ketchum – Past the Point of Rescue". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  20. ^ "Hiatus ends for Ketchum". Country Standard Time. August 4, 2014. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  21. ^ a b "allmusic ((( Hal Ketchum > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Allmusic. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
  22. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-89820-177-2.
  23. ^ "Results - RPM – Library and Archives Canada: Country Singles". RPM. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
  24. ^ Price, Deborah Evans (March 30, 1996). "Hal Ketchum Hauls Out 'The Hits'". Billboard: 33.
  25. ^ Newcomer, Wendy (September 7, 1996). "Single reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. p. 21. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  26. ^ "Going for Adds – June 8, 1998" (PDF). Radio & Records. June 5, 1998.
  27. ^ "CMT : Videos : Hal Ketchum : Tonight We Just Might Fall In Love Again". Country Music Television. Retrieved October 14, 2011.

External links[edit]