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Leon Payne (June 15, 1917September 11, 1969), "the Blind Balladeer", was a country music singer and songwriter.


Leon Roger Payne was born in Alba, Texasmarker 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. Leon Payne died in 1969 in San Antonio, Texasmarker. His wife Myrtie died in San Antoniomarker 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, Texasmarker, 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 Shreveportmarker, Louisianamarker. He was later on the Grand Ole Oprymarker. 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

George Jones recorded an album of all Leon Payne songs in 1971 called "George Jones Sings the Great Songs of Leon Payne".

John Prine 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.

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