As a kid growing up in a small town in Florida, Ted Harris was surrounded by
music. His dad played violin and guitar, and his mom played piano. Every
Saturday night, the family tuned in to the Grand Ole Opry. By the time Ted was
eight years old, he was learning chords on the guitar, and at 12 he wrote his
After high school, he started a job with the local newspaper, but his passion
for music would not be denied. In 1958, the 20-year-old Harris took a wild
chance and moved to Nashville, not knowing a soul. Hank Snow was his favorite
artist, so shortly after arriving, Harris dropped in to Snow's music-publishing
company, Silver Star. Fate was on his side, because he met songwriter Ted
Daffan ("Born to Lose," "I'm a Fool to Care"), who heard something in the kid's
songs and took him under his wing. "Whatever Ted said, I listened to, because
he was successful," Harris said.
For the next seven years, Harris held down a job in the grocery business.
Coming and going to work, he would write his songs in the car. A few small cuts
came his way. Then, in 1965, Carl Belew gave Harris his first big hit with
"Crystal Chandelier" (the song went on to be recorded by many artists and in
over 40 countries).
As his star rose, Harris co-founded his own publishing company, and his songs
were recorded by the likes of Dottie West, Ferlin Husky, Charley Pride, Roy
Drusky, Jack Greene, Jeannie Seely and Glen Campbell. By the end of the 1970s,
he'd racked up 87 SESAC Awards, several NSAI Outstanding Achievement Awards and
120 cuts by major artists. Unusual for Nashville, then as today, Harris wrote
by himself. He tried collaborating, but found that other writers didn't always
agree with his standard for what made a great song.
Simply stated, Harris defines that standard like this: "You find an idea, and
you become a slave to that idea until you make it as absolutely amazing
as you can."
Harris called his 1990 induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame "a
mountain-top experience." He retired in 2001 and sold his publishing company to
Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Today, he still writes and performs occasionally,
but is more excited about finding homes for what he calls the "lost treasures
of his back catalog."