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

Johnny Bush, the rustic singer-songwriter very best identified for writing Willie Nelson’s hit “Whiskey River,” has died. He was once 85.

Bush’s supervisor showed his demise to Rolling Stone and his date of demise was once indexed as Oct. 16 on his web site.

A explanation for demise was once unannounced via his supervisor however Houston Chronicle reported that the entertainer died of pneumonia.

Bush, who was once a just right buddy of Nelson’s was once standard in his place of origin of Houston, the place the honky-tonk performer ceaselessly carried out for crowds. His web site states that his subsequent display was once scheduled to happen within the Lone Big name State on Nov. eight however were rescheduled to March 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.


Born Johnny Bush Shinn III on Feb. 17, 1935 in Houston, the performer was once identified to his audiences as Johnny Bush because of a tv announcer’s flub when he was once 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 throughout 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 because of Nelson, who helped him land a task as a drummer in Ray Worth’s band. His debut unmarried, “Sound of a Heartache,” was once 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 become a world come across Nelson’s liberate of it three hundred and sixty five days in a while “Shotgun Willie.”

The performer, who performed the guitar, mess around and the drums, was once 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 profession was once in brief stunted via vocal problems which have been decided to be a results of a neurological dysfunction. This led him to obtain vocal and speech remedy, consistent with Rolling Stone, and due to Botox injections in 2002 his signature honky-tonk voice was once restored.

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

Tanya Tucker as soon as known as Bush certainly one of Texas’ “very best honky-tonk heroes” and had the chance to accomplish with Bush throughout her teenage years. The 2 carried out “Large Large Love” in combination in honor of his 60th yr within the trade in Castle Value, 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 day after today I had all the time identified him,” Nelson wrote in 1968. “We’re that just right of buddies.”

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