December 19, 2014 / 8:59 PM / 4 years ago

'Wind Beneath My Wings' songwriter Henley dies

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - Larry Henley, the songwriter best-known for “Wind Beneath My Wings,” has died at the age of 77 at a hospice in Nashville, Tennessee, after a prolonged illness, colleagues and friends said on Friday.

His long-time friend, Charlie Andrews, who worked with Henley as his lawyer and business manager, said: “He was very concerned about things that happen in the world and he always wanted to write songs that positively affected people.”

“Wind Beneath My Wings”, co-written with Jeff Silbar, won a Grammy Award for record of the year with Bette Midler singing the song. The tune has also been covered by numerous other artists.

In 2012, Henley was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, which noted his death with sadness.

“We lost a great songwriter and a great friend,” said Hall of Fame chairman and member Pat Alger, in an online post, adding Henley championed the rights of songwriters and often went to Washington to lobby for that cause.

A native of Arp, Texas, Henley grew up in Odessa and set out to be an actor like his hero, James Dean, but he ended up as a singer and songwriter.

As a singer, he and the rest of the group called The Newbeats, a Shreveport, Louisiana, outfit, sang the infectious song “Bread and Butter” and toured with the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Dave Clark Five and Roy Orbison, according to his biography on the web site of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Weary of life on the road, he settled in as a Nashville songwriter and chummed around with the likes of Roger Miller, Red Lane and Shel Silverstein.

“I highly respected Larry as a songwriter and as an amazing performer and unique recording artist,” said Nashville singer-songwriter Buzz Cason, who wrote “Everlasting Love.”

A funeral is planned in Texas next week.

Additional reporting by Lisa Bose McDermott in Texarkana, Texas; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler

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