Passings: Joe Dowell (1940 - 2016)

Joe Dowell, who topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961 with Wooden Heart, died in a Bloomington, IL hospital on Thursday after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. He was 76.

Dowell was born in Bloomington, IN, moving to Bloomington, IL when he was still young. A performer both in high school and college, he first entered a recording studio at the age of 21.

Joe recorded Wooden Heart, a song that had gone to number 1 in the U.K. for Elvis Presley from his movie G.I. Blues but wasn't released in the U.S. until late-1964 as the b-side of Blue Christmas and only reached 107.

Written by Fred Wise, Ben Weisman, Kay Twomey and Bert Kaempfert, Dowell's version went to number 1, knocking Bobby Lewis' Talkin' and Turnin' from the top spot after seven weeks. It also topped the Adult Contemporary chart.

Dowell had two further charting hits, The Bridge of Love (1961 / #50 Pop / #10 AC) and Little Red Rented Rowboat (1962 / #23 Pop) before being released from Smash records due to a conflict over Dowell writing his own material.

He went on to record a single for Monument and, later, a folk album in the 60's and moved into gospel in the 70's and 80's. He also worked, on occasion, as a voice over artist for commercials.

Dowell is survived by two daughters.

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