Kenny O'Dell

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Kenny O'Dell
Birth nameKenneth Guy Gist Jr.[1]
Born(1944-06-21)June 21, 1944
Antlers, Oklahoma, U.S.
Died(2018-03-27)March 27, 2018 (aged 73)
Cool Springs, Tennessee, U.S.
Years active1962–1979
LabelsVegas, Capricorn

Kenny O'Dell (born Kenneth Guy Gist Jr.[2]; June 21, 1944 – March 27, 2018)[3] was an American country music singer and songwriter.

Early in his career, he worked with guitarist Duane Eddy, and his own band, Guys and Dolls. He is best known for writing the country hit "Behind Closed Doors", which Charlie Rich recorded, and "Mama He's Crazy" for The Judds. "Behind Closed Doors" won a Grammy Award in 1973 for Best Country & Western Recording. O'Dell also wrote pop and soft rock songs, including "Next Plane to London", which was a Top 20 hit in 1967 for Rose Garden. O'Dell is credited as "Kenny Gist, Jr" on the record label.

Charlie Rich also had a top 10 hit in 1972 with the O'Dell-penned song, "I Take It On Home". O'Dell was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. His sole Billboard Top 40 appearance came in 1967 when "Beautiful People" climbed to number 38, and his only other Billboard Top 100 appearance came in 1968 with the local hit "Springfield Plane". O'Dell also had a top 10 country hit on his own with "Let's Shake Hands and Come Out Lovin'" in 1978.[1]

When O'Dell first moved to Nashville, he ran Bobby Goldsboro's publishing company. He has had other hit covers including "Trouble in Paradise" by Loretta Lynn in 1974.[citation needed]

O'Dell also penned the song "Why Don't We Go Somewhere And Love" recorded by Kenny Rogers on his best-selling hit album from 1976, the self-titled "Kenny Rogers". Rogers re-recorded the song soon after as a duet with Dottie West on another chart hit album, Every Time Two Fools Collide, both of which were worldwide releases on United Artists Records.

Personal life and death[edit]

O'Dell's wife, guitarist Vivian J. "Corki" Ray (née Casey) Gist died at the age of 80 in 2017. The couple had three children.[4][5]

O'Dell died of natural causes on March 27, 2018 in Cool Springs, Tennessee. He was 73.[2]



Year Album Label
1968 Beautiful People Vegas
1974 Kenny O'Dell Capricorn
1978 Let's Shake Hands and Come Out Lovin'


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country US
CAN Country
1962 "Old Time Love" single only
1967 "Beautiful People" 38 Beautiful People
1968 "Springfield Plane" 94 singles only
"Happy with You" 118
"Bless Your Little Heart"
1970 "If I Was a Rambler"
1971 "Jubal"
1972 "Why Don't We Go Somewhere and Love"
"Lizzie and the Rainman"
1973 "Rock and Roll Man"
1974 "You Bet Your Sweet, Sweet Love" 58 Kenny O'Dell
"I'll Find Another Way (To Say I Love You)"
1975 "Soulful Woman" 18 36
"My Honky Tonk Ways" 37 105 singles only
"I Can't Think When You're Doin'"
1978 "Let's Shake Hands and Come Out Lovin'" 9 Let's Shake Hands and Come Out Lovin'
"As Long as I Can Wake Up in Your Arms" 12 14
1979 "Medicine Woman" 32 single only


1973—Grammy\Best Country Song\"Behind Closed Doors"

1973—CMA\Song of the Year\"Behind Closed Doors"

1973—CMA\Single of the Year\"Behind Closed Doors"

1973—ACM\Song of the Year\"Behind Closed Doors"

1973—ACM\Single of the Year\"Behind Closed Doors"

1984—Nashville Songwriters Association International\Songwriter of the Year

1984—NSAI\Song of the Year\"Mama He's Crazy"

1985—BMI\Country Song of the Year\"Mama He's Crazy"


  1. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 304. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ "Grammy-winning country songwriter Kenny O'Dell dies at 73". Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 661. ISBN 0-89820-188-8.

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