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Bill Dees, Songwriter Behind Johnny Cash’s ‘Best Friend,’ Dead

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Songwriter Bill Dees, best-known for co-writing Roy Orbison’s classic 1964 hit, ‘Oh, Pretty Woman,’ died Wednesday (Oct. 26) at a nursing facility in Mountain Home, Ark. He was 73.

Earlier this year, Dees was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, the Huffington Post reports. The songwriter-performer was born in Texas.

Dees also found success writing for country superstars. He penned ‘Best Friend,’ a tune from Johnny Cash‘s 1973 album ‘Any Old Wind That Blows,’ as well as ‘Me and Ole Crazy Bill’ from Loretta Lynn‘s 1976 album ‘Somebody Somewhere,’ ‘My Friend’ from Lynn Anderson’s 1970 album ‘I’m Alright,’ and ‘It’s Over’ by Glen Campbell (originally recorded by Roy Orbison).

An article from Dees’ website reveals the story behind getting Cash to record ‘Best Friend.’ Apparently, he first met Cash while writing the song with co-writer Roy Orbison. Dees thought the song would be great for the Man in Black, and Orbison challenged him to pitch the song to Cash. “Well, he just lives across the street. Why don’t you take it over to him?’ Orbison reportedly said. Dees did, but not without some trepidation. “Man, I was scared walking across there,” Dees responded, fearing pitching a song to a superstar that he had never met. Cash opened the door, asking what Dees wanted. “Well, me and Roy we was just over there writing and, we had this song… We thought you might want to hear it,” he told Cash. The superstar reportedly turned friendly after that, replying, “Well, come on in and play it for me then.”

Cash ended up recording the song. A memorial service for Dees is scheduled for Saturday (Nov. 3).

Next: See more Country greats We've Lost in 2012

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