Max D. Barnes

Induction Year: 1992

Birth Name: Max Duane Barnes

Birth Date: 07-24-1936

Place of Birth: Hardscratch, Iowa

Death Date: 01-11-2004

Place of Death: Nashville, Tennessee

Max D. Barnes was born in rural Iowa during the Great Depression, the seventh of 10 children. He was raised in Omaha, Nebraska. He formed his first band when he was a teenager. At age 18, he married the band's singer, Patsy, whom he remained with for life. They raised three children, one of whom, Max T. Barnes, followed his father into the songwriting profession.

Max D. held a number of blue-collar jobs as a young man. He was a farmhand, a carpenter, a factory foreman, a lathe operator, a bartender, a car salesman, a deck hand, a construction laborer and a carnival worker. Eventually, he became a long-haul truck driver, and while behind the wheel, he composed songs in his head. His experience as a working man informed his down-to-earth songwriting.

He had his first country song published in Nashville in 1966. The Nashville independent label JED Records recorded him singing his self-penned "Ribbons of Steel" in 1971. Encouraged, Barnes moved to Music City on May 1, 1973.

Charley Pride recorded two of his early tunes in 1974. In addition to his writing, Max D. Barnes attracted notice with his rough-hewn, baritone vocal style. He recorded a string of self-composed singles that made the lower reaches of the country charts in 1977-81. Five of them were on Ovation Records, for whom he also recorded two LPs.

Max D. Barnes scored his first #1 song at the age of 43 when Conway Twitty sang his "Don't Take It Away" in 1979. For the next 20 years, he provided many artists with hits, including two CMA Song of the Year winners. One of them, "Chiseled in Stone," came at great personal expense. It was about the death of his son Duane, killed in a car accident at age 18.

Of his songwriting method, he once said, "I try to write so there's no confusion. Country music is for ordinary people. That's what I am, and I don't ever want to get above that."

Max D. Barnes died of complications from pneumonia at age 67. His custom coffin bore two chrome exhaust pipes from a diesel truck.

"Chiseled in Stone"

(written with Vern Gosdin)

CMA Song of the Year

Vern Gosdin1988 #6 country

"Coast of Colorado"

(written with Skip Ewing)

Skip Ewing1989 #15 country

"Do You Believe Me Now"

(written with Vern Gosdin)

Vern Gosdin1987 #4 country

"Don't Take It Away"

(written with Troy Seals)

Conway Twitty1979 #1 country

"Don't Tell Me What to Do"

(written with Harlan Howard)

Pam Tillis1991 #5 country
Marty Stuart1992 

"Drinkin' and Dreamin'"

(written with Troy Seals)

Waylon Jennings1985 #2 country

"From Seven Till Ten"

(written with Troy Seals)

Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn1978 #6 country

"Honey on His Hands"

(written with Troy Seals)

Jeanne Pruett1975 #41 country

"I Can't Love You Enough"

(written with Troy Seals)

Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn1977 #2 country

"I Won't Need You Anymore"

(written with Troy Seals)

George Jones1981 
Randy Travis1987 #1 country

"I've Got It Made"

John Anderson1994 #3 country

"If I Didn't Have You"

(written with Skip Ewing)

Randy Travis1992 #1 country

"If You Want to Find Love"

(written with Skip Ewing)

Kenny Rogers1992 #11 country

"If You're Gonna Do Me Wrong"

(written with Vern Gosdin)

Vern Gosdin1983 #5 country
George Jones2005 

"Joe Knows How to Live"

(written with Troy Seals, Graham Lyle)

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band1987 
Eddy Raven1988 #1 country

"Let Go of the Stone"

(written with Max T. Barnes)

John Anderson1993 #7 country

"Look at Us"

(written with Vince Gill)

CMA Song of the Year

Vince Gill1991 #4 country

"Red Neckin' Love Makin' Night"

(written with Troy Seals)

Conway Twitty1981 #1 country

"Slow Burning Memory"

(written with Vern Gosdin)

Vern Gosdin1985 #10 country

"Storms of Life"

(written with Troy Seals)

Randy Travis1982 

"Ten Feet Away"

(written with Troy Seals, Billy Sherrill)

Keith Whitley1986 #9 country
Diamond Rio1994 

"Thank God for the Radio"

(written with Robert John Jones)

The Kendalls1984 #1 country
Alan Jackson1994 

"That Just About Does It"

(written with Vern Gosdin)

Vern Gosdin1989 #4 country
Willie Nelson2011 

"This Ain't My First Rodeo"

(written with Hank Cochran, Vern Gosdin)

Vern Gosdin1990 #14 country

"Way Down Deep"

(written with Max T. Barnes)

Vern Gosdin1983 #5 country
Ralph Stanley1998 

"Who Was That Stranger"

(written with Don Cook, Curly Putman)

Loretta Lynn1988 #57 country
Reba McEntire1988 

"Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes"

(written with Troy Seals)

George Jones1985 #3 country

Max D. Barnes

Induction Year: 1992