Songwriter Mark James Passes Away

Songwriter Mark James Passes Away

( – Behind every catchy tune is a songwriter who wielded their mighty pen and music knowledge to create a masterpiece people were drawn to. The past several generations have seen many prolific songwriters, such as Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon. Now, one songwriter has passed away.

On Saturday, June 8, Mark James, born Francis Rodney Zambon, passed away at his home in Nashville at the age of 83. Sammie Zambon, James’ daughter, confirmed his death.

James’ history with writing songs that knocked it out of the park began in 1968, when BJ Thomas recorded “The Eyes of a New York Woman,” and “Hooked on a Feeling.” The latter hit the charts in the top five in 1968 and again in 1974 when rock band Blue Swede recorded and released its own version.

While “Hooked on a Feeling” gained James popularity, his spotlight grew in 1969, when Elvis Presley released “Suspicious Minds.” That tune was originally recorded and released by James himself in 1968, but had no semblance of the reach Presley’s version did. Elvis singing the song about a lack of trust in a relationship became one of his greatest hits. It was also his last number-one single and Rolling Stone includes it in its top 500 songs of all time.

Many of James’ songs made it to the movies, featuring in hits such as “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Reservoir Dogs.” Many popular artists have recorded his songs, including Bill Withers, Brenda Lee, and Michael BublĂ©.

The songwriter won two Grammy Awards in his life, both for the same song, “Always on My Mind,” which he co-wrote with Wayne Carson and Johnny Christopher. He also received the honor of being inducted into the Songwriter Hall of Fame in 2014.

James is survived by his wife, Karen Zambon, two daughters, Sammie and Dana Zambon, two grandchildren, and his brother, Rollin.

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