Don Wayne

Induction Year: 1978

Birth Name: Donald William Choate Wayne

Birth Date: 05-30-1933

Place of Birth: Nashville, Tennessee

Don Wayne penned classic country songs performed by major artists including Lefty Frizzell, Jean Shepard and Eddy Arnold, but he is best known for writing "Country Bumpkin," which won Wayne three major country songwriting awards in 1974.

Wayne was a veteran songwriter in the early 1970s when he heard about a publishing executive's dismissal of his songs as being too down-home to sell well in the contemporary market. "Nobody wants to hear about that frost on the pumpkin," is what the executive said, and Wayne filed that comment away for a few years, until he began to write a song about an awkward, inexperienced barroom drinker who meets a "barroom girl with hard and knowing eyes."

"She said, 'Hello country bumpkin,'" Wayne wrote. "How's the frost out on the pumpkin?" The song's verses followed the two characters through their lives. "The story just unfolded," Wayne told interviewer Philip Self. "I thought to myself, 'Man, I've stumbled onto a hit song here.'"

Wayne had indeed stumbled onto a major hit, one that topped the Billboard country chart, propelled the career of singer Cal Smith, won CMA and ACM top country song awards and helped Wayne earn the NSAI's Songwriter of the Year award in 1974.

Wayne was born in Nashville and raised as something of a country bumpkin, on a farm in White Bluff, Tennessee. He began playing guitar as a teenager, and he became a fan of the country singers he heard on the Grand Ole Opry, broadcast over WSM radio.

"That hurtin' in them sad old songs settled deep in a poor boy's bones," he later wrote in "Nashville," a 1971 hit for David Houston. "And I vowed I'll someday pick and sing in Nashville."

Wayne worked in a tool-and-die factory after dropping out of high school, then went into the military from 1954 through 1956. Before bring drafted, he landed a song, "Lonesome Waltz," with Opry star and Columbia recording artist George Morgan. Following the service, Wayne attempted a solo recording career, but wound up settling into the songwriting life by 1963, when he signed an exclusive writer agreement with Tree Publishing Company.

A year later, he scored his first #1 hit when Lefty Frizzell took "Saginaw, Michigan" up the charts, and he followed that with notable songs recorded by Shepard, Del Reeves, David Houston, Hank Williams Jr. and others. He also served as president of the Nashville Songwriters Association International.

"Belles of Southern Bell"

Del Reeves1965 #4 country

"Birmingham Blues"

Jack Barlow1969 #55 country

"Country Bumpkin"

NSAI Song of the Year, CMA, ACM Song of the Year

Cal Smith1974 #1 country

"Don't Water Down the Bad News"

Ernest Tubb1974 


Don Wayne1971 
Hank Williams Jr.1973 #12 country

"If Teardrops Were Silver"

Jean Shepard1966 #10 country

"It's Time to Pay the Fiddler"

(written with Walter Haynes)

Cal Smith1975 #1 country

"Lonesome Waltz"

(written with Vic McAlpin)

George Morgan1953 

"MacArthur's Hand"

Cal Smith1976 #43 country


David Houston1971 #9 country

"Saginaw, Michigan"

(written with Bill Anderson)

Lefty Frizzell1964 #1 country

"She Talked a Lot About Texas"

Cal Smith1975 #13 country

"The Marriage Bit"

Lefty Frizzell1968 #59 country

"What in Her World Did I Do"

(written with Bobby Fischer)

Eddy Arnold1979 

Don Wayne

Induction Year: 1978