Larry Henley

Induction Year: 2012

Birth Name: Larry Joel Henley

Birth Date: 06-30-1937

Place of Birth: Arp, Texas

Death Date: 12-18-2014

Place of Death: Nashville, Tennessee

There are very few songs that could be performed with equal emotional impact at a wedding, a graduation, a presidential inauguration and a funeral. But Larry Henley wrote one. As one of the most recorded and lauded songs of the last 30 years, "Wind Beneath My Wings" is a bona fide modern standard, the kind of life-changing anthem that alone could almost ensure entry into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. But it's only part of Henley's story.

Born and raised in Texas, he was inspired by his friend and neighbor Roy Orbison. One night while working a job in the oil fields near Shreveport, Louisiana, he sat in with a local band, Dean and Mark, and was promptly discovered by Mercury Records. With Henley singing lead, the group became the Newbeats, a one-hit wonder with "Bread and Butter" in 1964.

For the next six years, Henley toured the world, sharing stages with the Rolling Stones, the Kinks and his old friend Roy Orbison. He learned about making records and started writing his first songs. When the band split, he landed in Nashville, right at the moment when Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson were on the rise. Henley was a sponge, taking in their literate, soulful styles. Soon he was collaborating with top Music Row writers like Kenny O'Dell and Bill Dees. But his mentor was Red Lane, with whom he wrote his first hit, "'Til I Get It Right," for Tammy Wynette.

There followed a string of hits, for artists such as Charlie Rich, Kenny Rogers, Dottie West, Tanya Tucker, Janie Fricke and B. J. Thomas. And of course, there was the big one, "Wind Beneath My Wings." Written in 1982 with Jeff Silbar, it was a #4 country hit for Gary Morris, then snowballed over the years until it went global with Bette Midler's Grammy-winning, pop-chart-topping version in 1989 and touched a generation. It has since been recorded by many artists, from Kenny Rogers to Connie Francis.

Henley's most current project found him returning to his roots, forming a band with fellow songwriters Bruce Channel and Ricky Ray Rector called Original Copy.

"'Til I Get it Right"

(written with Red Lane)

Tammy Wynette1973 #1 country
Jean Shepard1973 
Millie Jackson1981 
Engelbert Humperdinck1981 
Highway 1011991 
Trisha Yearwood1995 
Solomon Burke2006 
Wynonna Judd2009 

"A Day in the Life of Love"

(written with Jim Hurt, Johnny Slate)


"A Patent On Love"

(written with Jess Long)

The Newbeats1964 

"And Then Some"

(written with Mark Gray, Johnny Slate)

Bobby Smith1982 #47 country

"As Long As I Can Wake Up in Your Arms"

(written with Kenny O'Dell)

Kenny O'Dell1978 #12 country

"Bally-Hoo Days"

(written with Larry Keith, Steve Pippin, Johnny Slate, Rafe Van Hoy)

Eddy Arnold1981 #32 country

"Come on Phone"

(written with Johnny Slate)

Jean Shepard1974 #36 country

"Dance Me Down Easy"

(written with Billy Burnette)

Levon Helm1980 
Irma Thomas1981 

"Girl Like Mine"

(written with Mark Mathis)

Roy Orbison1967 

"He's a Heartache (Lookin' for a Place to Happen)"

(written with Jeff Silbar)

Janie Fricke1983 #1 country

"Honky Tonk Heaven"

(written with Billy Burnette)

Orion1982 #70 country

"Hoppy's Gone"

(written with Red Lane, Johhny Slate)

Roger Miller1972 #42 country

"If It's All Right with You"

(written with Kenny O'Dell)

Dottie West1973 #28 country
Tina Turner1979 

"Is it Still Over"

(written with Ken Bell)

Randy Travis1989 #1 country

"Lizzie and the Rainman"

(written with Kenny O'Dell)

Bobby Goldsboro1972 
Tanya Tucker1975 #1 country
The Cox Family1995 

"Shotgun Rider"

(written with Jim Hurt, Johnny Slate)

Joe Sun1980 #23 country
Delbert McClinton1980 

"The Wind Beneath My Wings"

(written with Jeff Silbar)

CMA & Grammy Song of the Year

Sheena Easton1982 
Roger Whittaker1982 
Gary Morris1983 #4 country
B. J. Thomas1983 
Lee Greenwood1983 
Gladys Knight & the Pips1983 #23 adult contemporary, #64 R&B
Lou Rawls1983 #10 adult contemporary, #60 R&B, #65 pop
Willie Nelson1984 
Irma Thomas1986 
Patti LaBelle1986 
Perry Como1987 
Jack Jones1987 
Little Milton1988 
Judy Collins1988 
Ray Price1988 
Bette Midler1989 #1 pop, #2 adult contemporary
Johnny Rodriguez1990 
Shirley Bassey1991 
John Tesh1994 
Eddie & Gerald LeVert1995 #30 R&B
Floyd Cramer1996 
Kenny Rogers1998 
James Galway1999 
Roger Williams1999 
Connie Francis2005 

"The World Needs a Melody"

(written with Red Lane, Johnny Slate)

Johnny Cash & the Carter Family1972 #35 country
George Jones & Tammy Wynette1973 
Jack Greene & Jeannie Seely1973 
Bill Anderson1975 
The Chuckwagon Gang1987 
The Kingston Trio2000 

"Thinkin' 'Bout You"

(written with Gene Pistilli)

The Everly Brothers1986 

"To Be with You"

(written with Kenny O'Dell)

Bobby Goldsboro1972 

"Water Color Days"

(written with Kenny O'Dell)

Bobby Goldsboro1971 

"We Ain't Out of Love Yet"

(written with Gene Pistilli)

Randy Travis1988 

"When Love Cries"

(written with Keith Diamond, Eve Nelson, Tony Smith, Donna Summer)

Donna Summer1991 #18 R&B, #77 pop

"Why Don't We Go Somewhere and Love"

(written with Kenny O'Dell)

Sandy Posey1972 #51 country
Roy Head1972 
Bobby Goldsboro1972 
Charlie Rich1974 
B. J. Thomas1975 
Kenny Rogers & Dottie West1978 
Ray Stevens1992 

"You're Welcome to Tonight"

(written with Grant Boatwright, Jim Hurt)

Lynn Anderson & Gary Morris1983 #9 country

Larry Henley

Induction Year: 2012