Country music singer-songwriter Ed Bruce died on Friday (Jan. 8) at the age of 81. Bruce got his first taste of the music scene when he signed with Sun Records at the age of 17. He saw success as a singer and as a songwriter.
Bruce’s first single to chart was “Walker’s Woods” in 1967, although it only was a minor hit. A few years later, he wrote major hits for Tanya Tucker (“The Man That Turned My Mama On”) and Crystal Gayle (“Restless”). Bruce found his own chart success in 1976 with his version of “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and two more Top 40 hits followed that.
The success continued when Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings recorded “Mammas,” turning it into a big hit, and when Tanya Tucker took his “Texas (When I Die)” into the Top 5. In 1980, Bruce signed with MCA Records, where he scored his biggest successes. He also started to act in the 80s and even starred as the second lead on the TV revival of 1957’s Maverick. After the 1986 album Night Things and a 1988 self-titled follow-up, Bruce decided to cut back on music and focus on acting.
Bruce’s legacy will live on in the music world.
“We have lost another friend and songwriter today. Rest Easy Ed Bruce! Many will remember him for songs like Mama Don’t Let Your Baby’s Grow Up To Be Cowboys, but we shall remember him for a song called “I Know.” Look it up for a blessing. Goodbye brother and thank you.” – Joe Bonsall, The Oak Ridge Boys
“So very sad to hear that another one of country music’s great voices has gone silent. You could always tell instantly that it was Ed whether he was speaking or singing. I had the pleasure of working with him many times through the years and each and every time it was an honor. RIP my friend.” – T.G. Sheppard
“Ed was a big man with a big voice. He knew how to write a great country song. That deep speaking voice of his was unmistakable and he had some serious acting chops. Condolences to all of his family and friends. Rest easy, buddy.” – T. Graham Brown
“Ed Bruce was a dear, dear friend of mine. We always talked about visiting more, but now that’s going to have to wait. This one hits close to home and I will miss him like crazy.” – Johnny Lee
“Country music lost another artist/songwriter in Ed Bruce. Known for writing one of the best country songs ever, those iconic lyrics will forever remain. Prayers to the family of Ed Bruce. He will be missed.” – JD Shelburne