Sunday, October 16, 2005


The death has been announced of Baker Knight, prolific songwriter.

The 72 year old had originally dreamed of being a musician - he'd been guitarist with his own band, the modestly named Baker Knight and the Knightmares, but although they won slots opening for Conway Twitty, they fell apart. Knight first found success after relocating to Los Angeles in 1958 - originally planning to try his luck in the movies. A mutual friend brought him together with Ricky Nelson, who recorded his song Lonesome Town. The recording gave Knight his first Billboard hit, and was still paying its way years later when Paul McCartney recorded the same track.

Baker's songbook would eventually swell to over 1,000 tracks, and his work would be recorded by Elvis, Sinatra and Mickey Gilley. It was with Gilley that Baker won the 1976 Country Music song of the year for Don't All The Girls Get Prettier at Closing Time.

It could have been different - the Knightmares had got closer than many, but what would have been their breakthrough single, Bring My Cadillac Back, had been pulled from playlists when management started to fear it was providing free advertising for Cadillac. This, of course, in the days when American radio was as touchy as the BBC about the idea of product placement.

In 1985, Knight returned to his childhood home of Birmingham, where he started to suffer health problems which would eventually lead to his retirement from songwriting. He died from natural causes on Wednesday, and is survived by his daughter, the sometimes actress Tuesday Knight, and his son Thomas Baker Knight.

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