Leon Payne

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Leon Payne (June 15, 1917 – September 11, 1969), "the Blind Balladeer", was a country music singer and songwriter.


Leon Roger Payne was born in Alba, Texas, on June 15, 1917. He was blind in one eye at birth, and lost the sight in the other eye in early childhood.[citation needed] He attended the Texas School for the Blind from 1924 to 1935, where he met his future wife, Myrtie Velma Courmier.[citation needed] They had two children together, as well as two children from Myrtie's previous marriage. Leon Payne died at age 52 from cancer in 1969 in San Antonio, Texas. His wife Myrtie died in San Antonio in 2008, and Leon's composition "I Love You Because" was played at her funeral service by pedal steel guitarist Emmett Roch, accompanied by musicians who were members of her church.


Leon wrote hundreds of country songs in a prolific career that lasted from 1941 until his death in 1969. He is perhaps best known for his hits "I Love You Because", "You've Still Got a Place in My Heart" and the 1948 song "Lost Highway", a song made famous by Hank Williams in 1949 (in appreciation, Hank gave his 1938 Martin D-18 guitar to Leon). Leon Payne also wrote under the pen-name of "Pat Patterson" on tracks such as "It's Nothing to Me" performed by Sanford Clark.

He began his music career in the mid-1930s, playing a variety of musical instruments in public, and later performing on KWET radio in Palestine, Texas, starting in 1935. He also had a stint playing with Bob Wills' Texas Playboys in 1938. Payne was a regular working musician at Jerry Irby’s nightclub in Houston, Texas.[1] He joined his stepbrother, famed songwriter Jack Rhodes, and formed Jack Rhodes and The Lone Star Buddies in 1949. They performed regularly on the Louisiana Hayride show in Shreveport, Louisiana.[citation needed] He was later on the Grand Ole Opry.[citation needed]

Much of his musical legacy is in the form of recordings of his songs by other artists, perhaps most famous of which are two of his songs recorded by Hank Williams: "Lost Highway" and "They'll Never Take Her Love From Me", which were both minor hits.[citation needed]

Recordings and covers by other artists[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Colin Escott, Hank Williams - The Biography, Boston, 1995, p. 98.