Music, especially the country genre, lost one of its most important writers on Wednesday with the passing of Chet Flippo. Chet died early Wednesday from undisclosed causes. He was 69.
Flippo, who was born in Fort Worth, TX, served in the Navy during the Vietnam War before earning a bachelors and masters degree in journalism. While still in school, he was a contributing editor to Rolling Stone and became their New York Bureau Chief in 1974 and Senior Editor in 1977.
While Flippo covered many of rock music’s biggest artists, he also brought country artists like Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings to the general masses through feature articles in the magazine.
In 1980, Flippo left Rolling Stone to write Your Cheatin’ Heart: A Biography of Hank Williams, the first of many books that he wrote on music. He also did freelance writing for a variety of magazines including the New York Times and TV Guide.
In the early 90’s, Flippo lectured on journalism at the University of Tennessee before moving to Nashville to work for Billboard. He later moved to CMT where he became editorial director, a position he held until his death.
Flippo was married to music journalist Martha Hume who died last December 17.
CMT president Brian Phillips issued a statement saying “This is a stunning loss to all of us. Chet was a stoic Texan, fiercely loyal and intensely private. He was honest to the core and widely regarded as a bit enigmatic, even among his closest colleagues. For all, it was a terrific privilege to work with Chet Flippo. If you knew Chet and you knew how much he loved Martha, it does not seem quite so surprising that he has gone to join her so soon. We will love and respect Chet forever.”
Chet Flippo’s books:
- Your Cheatin’ Heart: A Biography of Hank Williams (1981)
- David Bowie’s Serious Moonlight: The World Tour Book (1984 with Denis O’Regan)
- On the Road With the Rolling Stones: 20 Years of Lipstick, Handcuffs and Chemicals (1985)
- Yesterday: The Unauthorized Biography of Paul McCartney (1989)
- It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll: My On-the-Road Adventures With the Rolling Stones (1989)
- Everybody Was Kung-Fu Dancing: Chronicles of the Lionized and the Notorious (1991)
- Graceland: The Living Legacy of Elvis Presley (1993)
- Gone Country: Portraits of Country Music’s New Stars (2000, with Raeanne Rubenstein)