(Photo by Scott Housley)
Don Schlitz was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. He briefly attended Duke University before moving to Nashville in 1973. His first recorded song, “The Gambler” won the Grammy for Best Country Song in 1978, and the Country Music Association’s Best Song Award in 1979.
Don’s songs have played major roles in the careers of Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, The Judds, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Tanya Tucker, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Keith Whitley, Alison Krauss, and many other singers. His fifty Top Ten’s include twenty-four Number One’s. Schlitz was the ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year for four consecutive years from 1988-91. He has won three CMA Song of the Year Awards, two ACM Song of the Year awards, two Grammy’s, and has had many more nominations. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Association hall of Fame in 1993.
In 2007, Don was presented the ASCAP Creative Achievement Award.
In 2010, he released his first studio album in 30 years, Allergic to Crazy, and his first ‘‘Greatest Hits” album; he received the Academy of Country Music’s Poet’s Honor; and he was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Don’s hits include: “On the Other Hand,” :Forever and Ever, Amen,” “Deeper Than the Holler,” “Heroes and Friends” (all sung by Randy Travis), “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” “I Feel Lucky,” “I Take My Chances” (Mary Chapin Carpenter), “When You Say Nothing at All” (Keith Whitley and Alison Krauss), “Learning to Live Again” (Garth Brooks), “Houston Solution” (Ronnie Milsap), “Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain”, “Turn Me Loose”, “I Know Where I’m Going” (The Judds), “One Promise Too Late” (Reba McEntire), “Forty Hour Week” (Alabama), “If You Can Do Anything Else” (George Strait), “Give Me Wings” (Michael Johnson), “Strong Enough to Bend”, “My Arms Stay Open All Night,” “I Won’t Take Less Than Your Love” (Tanya Tucker), “The Greatest” (Kenny Rogers), “Stand a Little Rain,” “When It’s Gone,” “I Love Only You” (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), “Old School” (John Conlee), “I Watched It All (on my radio)” (Lionel Cartwright), “You Can’t Make Old Friends” (Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton), and many, many more.
He also wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
In 2012, Don was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York City. Kenny Rogers inducted him, saying “Don doesn’t just write songs. He writes careers.”