Mickey Newbury was born in Houston, Texas in 1940. As a teenager, he sang tenor in a moderately successful vocal group called The Embers before putting his career on hold and joining the military at the age of 19. Upon returning from service, Newbury moved to Nashville to officially pursue a music career, and soon found himself signed with the prestigious publishing company Acuff-Rose Music.
In 1966, Newbury scored his first hit when country star Don Gibson made it to the top ten with Newbury’s song “Funny Familiar Forgotten Feelings,” while Tom Jones would later rerecord the song and turn it into a worldwide hit. Newbury’s career skyrocketed in 1968 with four top-five songs across four different charts: “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” recorded by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, made it to No. 5 on the pop/rock chart; “Sweet Memories” by Andy Williams made it to No. 1 on Easy Listening; “Time is a Thief” by Solomon Burke went to No. 1 on the R&B chart; and “Here Comes the Rain Baby” by Eddy Arnold made it to the top spot on the country charts.
Newbury’s success would continue on throughout his career. Between 1968 and 2003, he recorded sixteen studio albums, with many of those songs later recorded and made famous by a multitude of various artists. Most notable of these is “An American Trilogy,” which first appeared on his 1971 studio album Frisco Mabel Joy. The song, a medley of three 19th -century songs, would be made famous by none other than Elvis Presley, becoming a staple of Presley’s live shows. Newbuy has had over 1,500 versions of his songs recorded by various artists across nearly all genres. In 1980 he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Mickey Newbury was one of the first to rebel against the conventions of the Nashville music society, and gained a reputation as a “songwriter’s songwriter,” mentoring others and helping many of his fellow younger songwriters find success. His influence is still felt widely to this day.