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Tommy Collins (singer)

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Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins in 1966
Tommy Collins in 1966
Background information
Birth nameLeonard Raymond Sipes
Also known asTommy Collins
Born(1930-09-28)September 28, 1930
Bethany, Oklahoma, U.S.
DiedMarch 14, 2000(2000-03-14) (aged 69)
Ashland City, Tennessee, U.S.
GenresCountry, Bakersfield sound
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, musician
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1950s – 2000
LabelsCapitol, Columbia

Leonard Raymond Sipes[1] (September 28, 1930[1] – March 14, 2000),[2] better known as Tommy Collins, was an American country music singer and songwriter.[1]

Active primarily during the 1950s through the 1970s, Collins was instrumental in helping create the Bakersfield sound of the country music genre. He enjoyed a string of hits during the mid-1950s including "It Tickles" and "Watcha Gonna Do Now".[1]

Many of the songs he wrote were recorded by other artists. His song "If You Ain't Lovin' (You Ain't Livin')" was a top 10 hit for Faron Young in 1954 and, decades later, hit No. 1 on the chart for George Strait in 1988. In late 1963, Buck Owens released an LP consisting entirely of songs written or co-written by Collins, Buck Owens Sings Tommy Collins, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart in January 1964, holding the top spot for two weeks.[3]

After several years in the ministry, Collins returned to recording.[1] In 1965, he had a comeback hit with "If You Can't Bite, Don't Growl".[1] In the 1970s, he wrote several hits for Merle Haggard and The Strangers, including the No. 1 hits "Carolyn" and "The Roots of My Raising". In June 1980, Haggard recorded a biographical tribute to Collins called "Leonard".

Collins was the inspiration and character talked about in Craig Morgan's song, "I Wish I Could See Bakersfield".

Collins remained active in the songwriting business. In 1999, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, in a class of inductees that also included Wayne Kemp, A.L. "Doodle" Owens, and Glenn Sutton.[4] He died March 14, 2000, at his home in Ashland City, Tennessee.[2]



Year Album US Country Label
1957 Words and Music Country Style Capitol
1958 Light of the Lord
1959 This Is Tommy Collins
1960 Songs I Love to Sing
1966 Let's Live a Little Tower
The Dynamic Tommy Collins Columbia
1968 Shindig Tower
Tommy Collins on Tour (His Most Requested Songs) 44 Columbia
1971 Callin' Starday
1980 Country Souvenir Greenwood
Cowboys Get Lucky Some of the Time
1986 New Patches Password


Year Single US Country
1954 "You Better Not Do That" 2
"Whatcha Gonna Do Now" 4
1955 "Untied" 10
"It Tickles" 5
"I Guess I'm Crazy" 13
"You Oughta See Pickles Now" 15
1964 "I Can Do That" (with Wanda Collins) 47
1966 "If You Can't Bite, Don't Growl"A 7
"Shindig in the Barn" 47
1967 "Don't Wipe the Tears That You Cry for Him (On My Good White Shirt)" 62
"Birmingham" 60
"Big Dummy" 52
1968 "I Made the Prison Band" 64


  1. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Country Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 88/9. ISBN 0-85112-726-6.
  2. ^ a b "Country music writer Tommy Collins dies at 69". Oklahoman.com. March 16, 2000. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  3. ^ "Chart History: Buck Owens". www.billboard.com. Retrieved January 24, 2024.
  4. ^ "Tommy Collins". nashvillesongwritersfoundation.com. Retrieved January 23, 2024.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 192. ISBN 0-89820-188-8.

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