Wayland Holyfield

Induction Year: 1992

Birth Name: Wayland D. Holyfield

Birth Date: 03-15-1942

Place of Birth: Mallettown, Arkansas

Death Date: 05-06-2024

Place of Death: Nashville, Tennessee

In the early 1970s, when country was beginning to absorb rock and singer-songwriter influences, Wayland Holyfield was one of a handful of Music Row tunesmiths who perfected the blend.

As a kid growing up in a musical family in Little Rock, Arkansas, Holyfield studied the violin. In high school, he played electric bass in cover bands. Even when he started making up songs in his teens and twenties, he didn't consider music as anything more than a hobby. After earning his degree in marketing from the University of Arkansas, he worked for a few years at an ad agency. But the job didn't fulfill what he calls "that creative thing inside." So in 1972, he moved to Nashville and set about turning his hobby into a profession.

A year later, he co-wrote his first Top 5 country hit, "Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer," for Johnny Russell. In 1975, Don Williams took Holyfield's "You're My Best Friend" to #1 on the country chart, and his songwriting career was soon in full flight. Over the next two decades, Holyfield wrote over 40 Top 10 hits, including 14 #1s for artists such as George Strait, Reba McEntire, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Randy Travis, and Anne Murray. Along the way, he was honored with 37 ASCAP and BMI awards. A few of Holyfield's enduring classics include "Till the Rivers All Run Dry," "Some Broken Hearts Never Mend" and "Only Here for a Little While."

In 1986, he paid tribute to his home state's sesquicentennial celebration by penning "Arkansas, You Run Deep in Me." It became the state's official song the next year, and in 1992 Holyfield performed it at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton.

Wayland has also long been an advocate for songwriters' rights. He was the first Nashville-based writer to be elected to the ASCAP Board of Directors. He has also served as president of the Nashville Songwriters Association International and as Chairman of the Nashville Songwriters Foundation.

Of all his songs, Holyfield says he's most proud of "Could I Have This Dance," which has become one of the Top 5 wedding songs. "Touching people's lives is what songwriting is really about," he says. "I am proud to be able to say that I am a professional songwriter and that my music has had an impact in some small way on those who have heard it. What a wonderful legacy."

"Could I Have This Dance"

(written with Bob House)

Anne Murray1980 #1 country,#3 adult contemporary,#33 pop

"Don't Count the Rainy Days"

Michael Martin Murphy1983 #9 country

"Down in Tennessee"

John Anderson1990 #12 country
Mark Chestnutt1994 #23 country

"I'll Be Leaving Alone"

(written with Dickey Lee)

Dickey Lee1976 
Charley Pride1977 #1 country

"I'll Do It All Over Again"

(written with Bob McDill)

Crystal Gayle1976 #2 country

"I'lll Need Someone to Hold Me (When I Cry)"

(written with Bob McDill)

Don Williams1977 
Janie Fricke1980 #4 country

"If I Had a Cheating Heart"

Mel Street1978 #9 country
Ricky Lynn Gregg1993 

"Never Been So Loved in My Life"

(written with Norro Wilson)

Charley Pride1981 #1 country

"Nobody Likes Sad Songs"

(written with Bob McDill)

Ronnie Milsap1970 #1 country

"Only Here for a Little While"

(written with Richard Leigh)

Billy Dean1990 #3 country

"Put Your Dreams Away"

(written with Richard Leigh)

Mickey Gilley1982 #1 country

"Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer"

(written with Bob McDill, Chuck Neese)

Johnny Russell1973 #4 country

"She Never Knew Me"

Don Williams1976 #2 country
Hargus Robbins1977 

"Some Broken Hearts Never Mend"

Don Williams1977 #1 country

"Tears of the Lonely"

Don Williams1978 
Mickey Gilley1982 #3 country

"Till the Rivers All Run Dry"

(written with Don Williams)

Don Williams1976 #1 country
Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane1977 

"You'll Be Back (Every Night in My Dreams)"

(written with Johnny Russell)

Conway Twitty1980 
The Statler Brothers1981 #3 country

"You're My Best Friend"

Don Williams1975 #1 country
Ernest Tubb1975 
Jeannie C. Riley1981 

"You're the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had"

(written with Randy Hatch)

Ed Bruce1981 #1 country

"Your Love Shines Through"

(written with Gary Nicholson)

Mickey Gilley1983 #5 country

Wayland Holyfield

Induction Year: 1992