Most people know Harlan Howard by the songs he's penned- over 4,000. Born in Detroit and raised on Michigan farms, times were tough for a young farm boy in the years following the Depression. Howard started writing country songs around the age of 12, and decided to move to Los Angeles in 1955 to pursue his songwriting dream. Working as a forklift operator as a means to live, Howard devoted every spare moment to perfecting the craft of songwriting. His first hit came in 1959 when Charlie Walker recorded "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down," and Ray Price and Guy Mitchell put "Heartaches By the Number" on top of both the Country and Pop charts. Harlan, buoyed by his success and royalty checks, moved to Nashville in 1960. His career exploded. Harlan had as many as 15 songs on the Country Top 40 at one time- an amazing feat that has yet to be equaled. Harlan Howard was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973 and, in 1997, both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Although he has influenced several generations of songwriters, his greatest sense of accomplishment came from helping "juvenile" songwriters along the way. A Harlan co-writer said, "Harlan looked at songwriting differently than other writers- it was the love of his life. I think what he contributed to the songwriting community is that he made writers feel it's important to be a songwriter. It's a career; it's not just something you do for a while and go on to something else. Harlan was 100% songwriter all the time."
Just a few of Harlan's Legacy Hits
"He wrote the songs, I held the pen"
Click on the pictures below to learn more about some of the hit singles Howard wrote!