Leon Payne

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Leon Roger Payne (June 15, 1917 – September 11, 1969),[1] "the Blind Balladeer", was an American country music singer and songwriter.


He was born in Alba, Texas, United States.[1] He was blind in one eye at birth, and lost the sight in the other eye in early childhood.[1] He attended the Texas School for the Blind from 1924 to 1935.[1] He married Myrtie and they had two children together, as well as two children from Myrtie's previous marriage. Payne died at age 52 from a heart attack in 1969 in San Antonio, Texas.[1] 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.[1] 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.[1] Payne's own version of "I Love You Because", reached number one on the Billboard country chart, the only version to do so on that listing.[1] 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.[1] He also had a stint playing with Bob Wills' Texas Playboys in 1938.[1] Payne was a regular working musician at Jerry Irby's nightclub in Houston, Texas.[2] He joined his stepbrother, famed songwriter Jack Rhodes, and formed Jack Rhodes and The Lone Star Buddies in 1949.[1] They performed regularly on the Louisiana Hayride show in Shreveport, Louisiana.[1] He was later on the Grand Ole Opry.[1]

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.[1]

Notable recordings and covers by other artists[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Colin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Country Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 313/4. ISBN 0-85112-726-6.
  2. ^ Colin Escott, Hank Williams - The Biography, Boston, p. 98. 2005, ISBN 978-0316734974

External links[edit]