Mickey Newbury

Induction Year: 1980

Birth Name: Milton Sims Newbury Jr.

Birth Date: 05-19-1940

Place of Birth: Houston, Texas

Death Date: 09-28-2002

Place of Death: Vida, Oregon

In the late 1960s, Mickey Newbury was one of a handful of outsider songwriters who started slipping poetry and folk music influences into the Nashville mainstream. His complex, emotional story songs owed more to Leonard Cohen than Lefty Frizzell.

Newbury was born and raised in Houston. In his teens, he took up the guitar and wrote poems. Soon he was a regular performer at local coffee houses. At the same time, he was absorbing influences from the black R&B and blues clubs. His group, the Embers, briefly had a deal with Mercury Records. After high school, he joined the Air Force and was stationed in England for three years. Upon his return, Newbury set out in his old Pontiac, traveling around the South, playing gigs and living the bohemian life.

In 1965, he settled in Nashville and signed a publishing deal with Acuff-Rose Publications. In 1967, his song "Funny Familiar Forgotten Feelings" became a country Top 10 hit for Don Gibson and a pop hit for Tom Jones. In 1968, Newbury took that crossover appeal even further, sending four songs into the Top 5 across four different charts. It's a feat that's never been repeated.

As he placed more songs with artists from Andy Williams to Kenny Rogers to Ray Charles, Newbury staked out his own recording career. On albums like Harlequin Melodies (1968) and Frisco Mabel Joy (1971), he wove his soulful singing and writing through inventive arrangements bursting with everything from chamber pop to psychedelic rock. One of the songs from the latter album, a patchwork suite of folk, blues and spirituals called "An American Trilogy," became a show-stopping set-piece for Elvis Presley.

Always shy of the spotlight, Newbury grew more reclusive as the '70s progressed, and during the '80s he took a hiatus from the music business to spend time with his family. In the early '90s, he started writing, recording and performing again, turning out some of his most remarkable work. He died of emphysema in 2002.

While he never became as famous as some of his contemporaries, Newbury was the quintessential songwriter's songwriter. John Prine said, "Mickey Newbury is probably the best songwriter ever." Kris Kristofferson said, "I'm sure that I never would have written ‘Bobby McGee' and ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down' if I had never known Mickey. He was my hero and still is."

"An American Trilogy"

Mickey Newbury1971 #26 pop
Elvis Presley1972 #66 pop
Charlie Louvin1973 
John Conlee1983 
Glen Campbell1984 
Mickey Newbury1988 #93 country

"Are My Thoughts with You"

Kenny Rogers1968 

"Blue Sky Shinin'"

Mickey Newbury1979 #81 country
Janie Fricke1980 

"Darlin' Take Care of Yourself"

Billy Crash Craddock1982 
Tammy Wynette1983 

"Frisco Depot"

Mickey Newbury1971 
Waylon Jennings1972 

"Funny Familiar Forgotten Feelings"

Don Gibson1966 #8 country
Tom Jones1967 #49 pop
Freddie Hart1967 
The Statler Brothers1967 
Dottie West1967 
Mickey Newbury1972 
Mandy Barnett1999 

"Good Morning Dear"

Frank Ifield1968 #67 country
Don Gibson1968 #71 country

"Harlequin Melodies"

Mickey Newbury1968 
Jim Ed Brown1969 

"He Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye"

(written with Doug Gilmore)

Lynn Anderson1971 #54 country

"Here Comes the Rain, Baby"

Roy Orbison1967 
Eddy Arnold1968 #2 country, #20 adult contemporary, #74 pop
Sammi Smith1972 
Don Gibson1978 

"How I Love Them Old Songs"

Carl Smith1970 #20 country
Gene Vincent1970 
Jim Ed Brown1972 #57 country
Carol Channing1972 
Mickey Gilley1975 
Don Gibson1977 
Tompall Glaser1977 
Danny Davis1978 #91 country

"I Don't Think About Her No More (Poison Red Berries)"

Bill Anderson1970 
George Hamilton IV1971 
Eddy Arnold1972 
Bobby Bare1973 
Don Williams1974 

"I Don't Think About Him No More (Poison Red Berries)"

Tammy Wynette1974 
Jan Howard1975 

"I Wish I Could Say No to You"

Tom Jones1966 
Cal Smith1968 

"If You Ever Get to Houston (Look Me Down)"

Don Gibson1977 #16 country

"If You Want Me to I'll Go"

Don Gibson1971 
Del Reeves1971 
Bobby Wright1971 #74 country

"Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)"

Jerry Lee Lewis1967 
Kenny Rogers & the First Edition1968 #5 pop
Mickey Newbury1968 
Willie Nelson2001 
Sharon King & the Dap-Kings2008 

"Mister Can't You See"

(written with Townes Van Zandt)

Buffy Sainte-Marie1972 #38 pop

"Remember the Good"

Jan Howard1972 
Claudine Longet1972 
Eddy Arnold1976 

"San Francisco Mabel Joy"

Mickey Newbury1969 
Mickey Newbury1971 
Joan Baez1971 
Waylon Jennings1973 
David Allan Coe1977 
Kenny Rogers1978 
John Denver1981 

"She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye"

(written with Doug Gilmore)

Jerry Lee Lewis1970 #2 country
Kenny Rogers1970 
Don Gibson1970 
Jack Greene1970 
Charlie Louvin1970 
Hank Snow1975 
Ronnie Milsap1975 #15 country


Kenny Rogers1969 
Earl Richards1970 #57 country
Don Gibson1972 
Mickey Newbury1973 #53 country, #87 pop
Sammy Vaughn1979 #98 country
Juice Newton1980 #35 country

"Sweet Memories"

Willie Nelson1968 
Andy Williams1968 #4 adult contemporary, #75 pop
Etta James1969 
Don Gibson & Dottie West1969 #32 country
Ray Price1971 
Ray Charles1971 #27 adult contemporary
Jerry Reed1972 
Everly Brothers1972 
Hank Locklin1972 
Brenda Lee1973 
Charlie McCoy1975 
Willie Nelson1979 #4 country
Ricky Van Shelton1990 
The Time Jumpers2007 
Rosanne Cash & Chris Thile2009 

"Swiss Cottage Place"

Roger Miller1969 
Jerry Wallace1969 #71 country
Mickey Newbury1971 

"The 33rd of August"

Gordon Lightfoot1969 
Waylon Jennings1970 
Joan Baez1971 
David Allan Coe1974 

"Time Is a Thief"

Solomon Burke1968 #1 R&B
B. B. King1982 

"When Do We Stop Starting Over"

Don Gibson1977 #67 country

"Why You Been Gone So Long"

Johnny Darrell1969 #17 country
Bill Anderson1969 
Jessi Colter1970 
Jeannie C. Riley1972 
Jerry Lee Lewis1983 #69 country
Chris Hillman1984 
Brenda Lee1986 #50 country

Mickey Newbury

Induction Year: 1980