), "the Blind Balladeer", was a country music
singer and songwriter.
Payne was born in Alba,
Texas on June 15, 1917.
He was blind in one eye at
birth, and lost the sight of the other eye in early childhood. He
attended the Texas School for the Blind from 1924 to 1935, where he
met his future wife, Myrtie Velma Courmier. They had two children
together, as well as two children from Myrtie's previous marriage.
died in 1969 in San Antonio, Texas. His wife Myrtie died in San Antonio in 2008, and Leon's composition "I Love You
Because" was played at her funeral service.
Leon wrote hundreds of country songs in a prolific career that
lasted from 1941 until his death in 1969. He is perhaps best known
for his hits "I Love You Because," and "You've Still Got A Place In
My Heart." He began his music career in the mid-1930s,
playing a variety of musical instruments in public, and later
performing on KWET radio in Palestine, Texas, starting in 1935.
He also had a stint
playing with Bob Wills
' Texas Playboys in
1938. He joined his step-brother famed songwriter Jack Rhodes
and formed Jack Rhodes and The Lone
Star Buddies, in 1949. They performed regularly on the Louisiana Hayride show in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was later on the Grand Ole Opry.
Much of his musical legacy is in the form
of recordings of his songs by other artists, perhaps most famous of
which are two of his songs recorded by Hank Williams
: "Lost Highway" and "They'll
Never Take Her Love From Me", which were both minor hits.
Recordings and covers by other artists
recorded an album of all
Leon Payne songs in 1971 called "George Jones Sings the Great Songs
of Leon Payne".
recorded "The Blue Side of
Lonesome" and "I Love You Because" for his Standard Songs for
Average People in 2007.
Bill Frisell recorded "Lost Highway" on the Nonsuch album "Further
East/Further West" 2005.