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Country singer, ‘Whiskey River’ songwriter Johnny Bush dies at 85

Country singer, ‘Whiskey River’ songwriter Johnny Bush dies at 85

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Johnny Bush

Johnny Bush, a Houston native and member of the Texas Country Hall of Fame, died Friday at 85.

Country singer-songwriter Johnny Bush died Friday, according to a message posted by his official Facebook page. He was 85.

The Houston native and member of the Texas Country Hall of Fame, whose notable songs include Whiskey River, Undo the Right, I’ll Be There and Green Snakes on the Ceiling, died “surrounded by his family and some of his closest friends,” according to the post.

Whiskey River became a trademark song by Bush’s friend Willie Nelson, who still opens his concerts with it. In a 1997 Eagle interview, Bush commented on Nelson’s affection for the song: “It’s kind of hard to put into words, because not only is he one of my best friends, but one of the greatest songwriters that has ever lived. To have him think that much of one of my songs is quite a thrill.”

Bush was no stranger to Bryan-College Station. He was a friend of the late Johnny Lyon, a fellow singer-songwriter who owned the Texas Hall of Fame dance hall in Bryan, and Bush frequently performed there. Bush also performed at the First Yell concert at Reed Arena in 2014, trading songs with Joe Ely and Gary P. Nunn. “My next birthday I will be 80 years old, and I don’t use glasses,” he joked during the show. “I drink it right out of the bottle.”

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