A country music legend is gone. "With great sadness and grief we announce that Hal passed away peacefully last night at home due to complications of Dementia," Andrea Ketchum, wife of Hal Ketchum, posted on Facebook and his website Tuesday, per CNN. The 67-year-old, who put out his first album in 1988, was known for such hits as "Small Town Saturday Night" and "Long Haired Country Boy," which he recorded with the Charlie Daniels Band. Born in Greenwich, NY, Ketchum moved to Austin, Texas, in 1981, where he became a singer-songwriter and regularly performed at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, per Taste of Country.
Ketchum had originally started out as a drummer when he was a teen, but he eventually switched to playing guitar, per his bio on the website of the Grand Ole Opry, which he was a member of since 1994. He worked as a carpenter and furniture builder for almost two decades before getting his big break in music, then went on to create nearly a dozen albums and amass 15 top 10 singles. Ketchum's personal manager, Tracie Ferguson, tells CNN Ketchum was diagnosed with dementia in 2017. In April 2019, Andrea Ketchum confirmed the dementia diagnosis and also said her husband had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, People reports. "One thing that stood out about Hal was his continued love for his fans, and he gave as much of himself to them as possible," Ferguson says, per CNN. (Read more country music stories.)