NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - Hank Cochran, who wrote a cascade of country music hits, died on Thursday at his home near Nashville, according to his family. He was 74.
The cause of death was pancreatic cancer, his family said.
Cochran gave Willie Nelson his first break in Nashville, persuading his employer, Pamper Music, to hire Nelson. When Cochran was offered a recording deal by Liberty Records, he successfully lobbied for Nelson to be signed too.
Cochran turned out hits for Eddy Arnold including "Make the World Go Away," Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces," and George Jones' "You Comb Her Hair."
Cochran also wrote Loretta Lynn's "Why Can't He Be You?" and Merle Haggard's "It's Not Love," as well as songs for Grammy-winner Burl Ives.
He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1974.
In the 1960s, Cochran notched three top 30 hits as a solo artist.
On the Hall of Fame's Web site (www.nashvillesongwritersfoundation.com) Cochran was quoted as saying: "I have a theory that somebody beside me must write my songs because half of the time I don't have the slightest idea where they come from. I even wake up out of a dead sleep and write a song completely."
Born Garland Perry in Isola, Mississippi, Cochran was married to Grand Ole Opry star Jeannie Seely. They later divorced.
Reporting by Pat Harris; Editing by Andrew Stern and Jerry Norton