Passings: Country Songwriter Richard Fagan (1947 - 2016)

by VVN Music

Country songwriter Richard Fagan, who may actually have more infamy for another incident during his life, died on Friday after battling liver cancer. He was 69.

Fagan started playing guitar when he was young but, in junior high, left it behind to sing doo wop. After school, he was drafted, serving in Viet Nam and was, for a time, a homeless veteran before marrying and having a child.

In the mid 70's, Fagan was discovered by singer Tom Oteri, the father of SNL veteran Cheri Otari, who recorded five of Richard's songs and submitted them to producers for consideration; however, he forgot to put contact information in the package. It took a private investigator, hired by Bob Gaudio, to track Fagan down. The result was Neil Diamond recording his song The Good Lord Loves You on his 1981 album September Morn.

Gaudio also had Fagan signed with Mercury Records where Richard recorded a solo album along with a second that was never released.

In 1986, Fagan moved to Nashville where he soon had his song Blue Suade Blues become a minor hit for Con Hunley. By 1988, more artists were recording Fagan's songs including Moe Bandy (Americana, 1988 / #8 Country) and Mel McDaniel (Real Good Feel Good Song, 1988 / #9 Country). He again had a number of major hits in the mid-90's including two number 1's with John Michael Montgomery (Be My Baby Tonight and Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)) and Clay Walker (Only on Days That End in Y, 1996 / #5).

On the night of April 26, 2008, Fagan and Oteri got into a fight. Fagan was drunk and on antidepressants and Otari had taken Fentanyl for a broken rib. The fight ended with Fagan stabbing Oteri in the wrist with a knife and leaving, later being arrested for DUI. Fully believing that he had only wounded his friend, he was soon told that Otari had died and was arrested for first degree murder.

Richard eventually was convicted of reckless homicide and ended up serving seven months in rehab. The lenient sentence was due to Otari's family who came to Fagan's defense in court. In January 2009, all charges were dropped when it was determined that Otari had actually died from a heart attack.

Since that time, Otari's son, Tom, Jr., has handled Fagan's publishing.

Fagan is survived by his wife, Rose.

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