Johnny Bush, songwriter who penned Willie Nelson's 'Whiskey River,' dead at 85

Johnny Bush, the rustic singer-songwriter highest identified for writing Willie Nelson’s hit “Whiskey River,” has died. He used to be 85.

Bush’s supervisor showed his loss of life to Rolling Stone and his date of loss of life used to be indexed as Oct. 16 on his web site.

A reason for loss of life used to be unannounced via his supervisor however Houston Chronicle reported that the entertainer died of pneumonia.

Bush, who used to be a just right buddy of Nelson’s used to be widespread in his native land of Houston, the place the honky-tonk performer incessantly carried out for crowds. His web site states that his subsequent display used to be scheduled to happen within the Lone Famous person State on Nov. eight however have been rescheduled to March 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.


Born Johnny Bush Shinn III on Feb. 17, 1935 in Houston, the performer used to be identified to his audiences as Johnny Bush because of a tv announcer’s flub when he used to be 17, his web site states.

Singer-songwriter Johnny Bush performs onstage during the 46th Annual Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic at Austin360 Amphitheater on July 04, 2019 in Austin, Texas. He died at the age of 85 on Oct. 16, 2020.

Singer-songwriter Johnny Bush plays onstage all over the 46th Annual Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic at Austin360 Amphitheater on July 04, 2019 in Austin, Texas. He died on the age of 85 on Oct. 16, 2020.
(Rick Kern/WireImage for Surprise Ink)

The entertainer were given his get started within the song business due to Nelson, who helped him land a role as a drummer in Ray Value’s band. His debut unmarried, “Sound of a Heartache,” used to be launched in 1967 and won reward from Nelson, who described him on the time as a “nice making a song skill.”

Bush penned “Whiskey River” in 1972, which was an international stumble on Nelson’s unencumber of it three hundred and sixty five days afterward “Shotgun Willie.”

The performer, who performed the guitar, mess around and the drums, used to be additionally identified for his nationwide hits “Undo the Proper” and “You Gave Me a Mountain.” The latter reportedly earned him the nickname of “Nation Caruso.”


Bush’s making a song occupation used to be in brief stunted via vocal problems which have been made up our minds to be a results of a neurological dysfunction. This led him to obtain vocal and speech treatment, in line with Rolling Stone, and because of Botox injections in 2002 his signature honky-tonk voice used to be restored.

In 2001, the Nationwide Council of Communicative Problems and the American Speech-Language-Listening to Related venerated Bush with their Annie Glenn Award. He used to be inducted into the Nation Tune Corridor of Status in 2003 with Kris Kristofferson and Lefty Frizzell. Two years later, Broadcast Tune, Inc. additionally awarded him with the Million-Air Award for “Whiskey River” attaining 1 million spins. Maximum just lately, he used to be the primary recipient of the Ameripolitan Founding father of the 12 months Award in 2014.

Tanya Tucker as soon as referred to as Bush one in every of Texas’ “highest honky-tonk heroes” and had the chance to accomplish with Bush all over her teenage years. The 2 carried out “Large Large Love” in combination in honor of his 60th 12 months within the industry in Citadel Price, she mentioned.


In 1968, Nelson mentioned his bond with Bush.

“It appeared that at some point I had by no means heard of Johnny Bush after which on the next day to come I had at all times identified him,” Nelson wrote in 1968. “We’re that just right of buddies.”

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