Wayne Kemp

Induction Year: 1999

Birth Name: Clarence Wayne Kemp

Birth Date: 06-01-1941

Place of Birth: Greenwood, Arkansas

Death Date: 03-09-2015

Place of Death: Lafayette, Tennessee

Wayne Kemp was one of nine children born to a musical family. His parents played several instruments and always encouraged their kids to sing and harmonize together. When Wayne was six, the family moved to Oklahoma, and soon he was performing in church and at local events. By the age of 16, he was writing songs and playing guitar professionally with Tulsa country star Benny Ketchum.

Kemp's first break came in 1965, when a friend passed his demo tape to George Jones. The singer liked the guitar playing and two of Kemp's songs, "Love Bug" and "I Made Her That Way," and recorded them. Soon, Kemp found himself in Nashville, recording with Jones and making his own solo record.

But just as his star was on the rise, tragedy struck. En route to a gig, a drunk driver crashed into the car that Kemp and his band were riding in. The car burst into flames. Two of Kemp's band mates were killed, and Wayne suffered third degree burns on his face, hands and legs. Doctors told him he would never play guitar again.

But with hard work and determination, Kemp proved them wrong. In 1968, he had his first #1, "Next in Line" by Conway Twitty, quickly followed by Twitty's hits with "Darling, You Know I Wouldn't Lie" and "That's When She Started to Stop Loving You." Kemp signed as a staff writer with Tree International and hit the road, playing guitar for Twitty. His own solo recording career finally got rolling the year after, with hits like "Won't You Come Home (And Talk to a Stranger)" and "Bar Room Habits."

For the next two decades, Kemp pursued his solo career while writing for others and earning a gold-plated reputation as a master of the "tear in my beer" heartbreak song. Along the way, he scored cuts by Johnny Cash (the #1 country hit "One Piece at a Time"), George Strait, Johnny Paycheck, Hank Williams Jr., Ronnie Milsap, Jack Greene, Faron Young, Mickey Gilley, Charley Pride and Ricky Van Shelton (another country #1, with "I'll Leave This World Loving You").

In recent years, Kemp has returned to performing, while continuing to write. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1999.

"Burn the Honky Tonk Down"

George Jones1967 
The Meat Puppets1986 

"Darling, You Know I Wouldn't Lie"

(written with Red Lane)

Conway Twitty1968 #2 Country
Elvis Costello1981 

"Don't Send Me No Angels"

Ricky Van Shelton1988 
George Jones1992 

"Haven't You Heard"

(written with Red Lane)

George Strait1985 

"Hot Burning Flames"

(written with Hank Cochran, Mack Vickery)

George Strait1987 
Ronnie McDowell1989 

"I Just Came to Get My Baby"

Faron Young1968 #8 country

"I Should Have Watched That First Step"

George Strait1984 

"I'll Leave This World Loving You"

(written with Mack Vickery)

Ronnie Milsap1975 
Wayne Kemp1979 #47 country
Ricky Van Shelton1988 #1 country

"I'm the Only Hell (Mama Ever Raised)"

(written with Mack Vickery , Bobby Borchers)

Johnny Paycheck1977 #8 country
Moot Davis2007 

"Love Bug"

(written with Curtis Wayne)

George Jones1965 #6 country
The Lost & Found1992 
George Strait1994 #8 country
The Greenbriar Boys2003 

"My Old Flame Is Burnin' Another Honky Tonk Down"

(written with Mack Vickery, Bobby Borchers)

George Strait1986 

"Next in Line"

(written with Curtis Wayne)

Conway Twitty1968 #1 country
Jack Greene1968 
Patty Loveless2008 

"One Piece at a Time"

Johnny Cash1976 #1 country, #29 pop
David Allen Coe1998 
Michelle Shocked2003 

"She Knows When You're on My Mind"

(written with Mack Vickery)

George Strait1996 
J.D. Crowe & the New South2006 

"Tell Ole I Ain't Here, He Better Get on Home"

Moe Brandy & Joe Stampley1980 #11 country

"That's When She Started to Stop Loving You"

Conway Twitty1970 #3 country
Jack Greene1970 

"The Fireman"

(written with Mack Vickery)

George Strait1985 #5 country
Due West2002 

"The Image of Me"

Conway Twitty1968 #5 country
Ernest Tubb1968 
Charley Pride1969 
George Jones1970 
The Flying Burrito Brothers1970 
Doug Sahm1973 
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers1995 

"Waitin' on the Tables to Turn"

(written with Mack Vickery)

Hank Williams Jr.1981 

"Who'll Turn Out the Lights (In Your World Tonight)"

(written with Mack Vickery)

Wayne Kemp1971 #57 country
Conway Twitty1971 
Ronnie Milsap1975 
Mel Street1980 #36 country
Ronnie McDowell1989 #69 country
Ricky Van Shelton1991 

Wayne Kemp

Induction Year: 1999