Thursday, January 7, 2021
– Jamie O'Hara, who enjoyed success both as a member of The O'Kanes and a songwriter, passed away this morning at 70 of cancer.
O'Hara was one-half of The O'Kanes with Kieran Kane. He also had many songwriting credits, including Gary Allan's "Man to Man" and Ronnie McDowell's "Older Women" and "Wandering Eyes."
""My husband, friend and love of my life took his last breath this morning at 11:11 at Alive hospice, as my son Brian sang him a plethora of Jesse Winchester songs, all stunningly appropriate, though we'd never thought of them in this context before," O'Hara's wife posted. "...and Jamie's own songs, including the earliest ones, which were shockingly sophisticated for a man as young as he was when he began his career; and those of other friends. Jamie suffered tremendously in recent months. He's no longer suffering, and for that we can all be grateful. He will live in our hearts and in his songs."
O'Hara was born in Toledo, Ohio on Aug. 8, 1950. He moved to Nashville to pursue a singing and songwriting career. By 1975, he had a publishing deal.
He hooked up with Kane, who wrote for the same publisher, to form The O'Kanes.
They first collaborated on "Bluegrass Blues," which was cut by The Judds. By 1986, they decided to form a duo known as The O'Kanes. The same year, O'Hara penned "Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Ol' Days)," a big hit The Judds. O'Hara earned a Grammy Award for Best Country Song.
The O'Kanes signed to Columbia Nashville in 1986, recording three studio albums for the label and charting seven singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles charts. Their third album did not have any hit singles. By 1990, the duo split with both going for solo careers, "Rise Above It," for RCA Nashville in 1994. He put out "Beautiful Obsession" in 2001, while continuing to write. Tim McGraw, Tammy Wynette, Josh Turner, Tanya Tucker, Sara Evans, George Jones, Don Williams, Tricia Yearwood, Pam Tillis, Shelby Lynn, Wynonna, Emmylou Harris, and The Trio (Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt), Randy Travis ("Gonna Walk That Line") and Lee Ann Womack ("You've Got to Talk to Me") were among the artists who cut his songs.
Allan posted on Facebook,"I lost a great friend and mentor. My pal, Odie Blackmon, introduced me to Jamie not long after I arrived in Nashville. Over the years, the three of us wrote many songs together and created many wonderful memories that I will always cherish. I recorded several of Jamie's songs, including my first number one, "Man to Man." Jamie always pushed me to remember no matter how crazy the music industry and life in general might be, I needed to take the time to put my feelings into a song. Thanks for your encouragement, your friendship and your teaching, Jamie. You will be greatly missed.