Country singer Freddie Hart, known for his classic 1971 single "Easy Loving," died on Saturday at age 91.
Hart's death was confirmed in a statement on his official Facebook page. He died at his Burbank, California home and is survived by his wife of 61 years, Ginger, and sons Freddie Jr., Andy, Joe, and Victor.
Hart was born Frederick Segrest on Dec. 21, 1926 in Loachapoka, Alabama. He learned to play guitar at an early age and left school at 12. Three years later, he lied about his age to sign up for the U.S. Marine Corps and served in World War II, according to Billboard. After the war, he lived in Los Angeles and taught self-defense classes at the police academy.
In the early 1950s, Hart tried to break into the music industry as a performer, signing his first deal with Capitol Records in 1953. Although he failed to find success at the time, he was writing songs that would be recorded by others, including Patsy Cline, George Jones, Porter Wagoner and Carl Smith. Hart finally had a Top 20 hit in 1960 with "The Key's In The Mailbox," recorded at Columbia Records.
After a brief stint at Kapp Records in the mid 1960s, Hart signed a new deal with Capitol.
In 1970, he recorded "Easy Loving." At first, the song was just another album track, but it was finally released as a single in 1971 and became a nationwide hit after getting attention in Atlanta. It spent three weeks at the top of Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart and became Hart's only pop hit when it reached No. 17 on the Hot 100 chart.
"Easy Loving" went on to win several awards and has since become a country standard. It helped Hart win the 1972 Academy of Country Music Awards' Top Male Vocalist, Entertainer of the Year, Single and Song of the Year. The song also won the Best Country Male Vocalist Grammy in 1972 and the Country Music Association's Song of the Year award in 1971.
Hart had a few more hit country singles through the early 1980s with songs like "My Hang-Up Is You," "Trip to Heaven," "Bless Your Heart" and "You Were There."
In the late 1980s, Hart switched gears to record gospel music. According to his Facebook page, he died after finishing work on God Bless You, produced by David Frizzell. The album will be released soon on Nashville America Records.
In 2004, Hart was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
"I try to put down in my songs what every man wants to say, and what every woman wants to hear," Hart once said of his songs.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Photo credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images