Iconic Singer/Songwriter and Actor Ed Bruce Dead at 81

January 9, 2021 Updated: January 9, 2021

Country singer-songwriter and actor William Edwin Bruce Jr. (Ed Bruce) has died in Tennessee, his publicist confirmed. He was 81.

Bruce, best known for co-writing “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” together with his wife Patsy Bruce in 1975, died from natural causes in his Clarksville home on Friday, his publicist confirmed to Fox News.

A rendition of the hit song originally recorded by Bruce peaked the country music charts about three years later, spending four weeks at No. 1 after Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings cut the song on their 1978 duet album.

Bruce also earned a Grammy nomination that same year which nominated “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” as the best country music song of 1978.

The country star was born in Keiser, Arkansas on Dec. 29, 1939, and moved to Memphis in Tennessee where he also grew up. He was just 17 when he crossed paths with Sun Records recording engineer Jack Clement in 1957.

Sam Phillips, the owner of the Memphis-based independent record label, caught the attention of Bruce and the then young up and coming country legend ended up recording the single “Rock Boppin’ Baby” for Sun Records under the name of “Edwin Bruce.”

In the early 1960s, Bruce continued to record for smaller record labels and it wasn’t until 1967 when he scored his first charted single with “Walker’s Woods” after returning to RCA Records—a U.S. label owned by Sony Music Entertainment.

In the years to come, he continued to score minor hits with songs like “Everybody Wants To Get To Heaven” and “Song For Jenny.” In 1974, he scored a major hit after writing “The Man That Turned My Mama On” for Tanya Tucker before finally reaching the top 20 country charts with “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” granting him a Grammy.

Epoch Times Photo
Tanya Tucker performs at All for the Hall: Under the Influence Benefiting the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum at Bridgestone Arena, in Nashville, Tenn., on Feb. 10, 2020. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum)

Besides his accomplishments in the country music industry, Bruce also took multiple acting roles in TV-shows, commercials, and theatrical releases. Some of those include “Fire Down Below” with Steven Seagal and Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies.”

After news broke of Bruce’s passing, other country celebrities began sharing loving tributes and heartfelt condolences on social media.

“Just hearing that Ed Bruce passed away … What a standalone voice he had. He’ll be remembered for his many talents including acting and maybe most important his songwriting … Rest In Peace cowboy. I’m not loving 2021 so far,” American country singer and TV personality Blake Shelton said on Twitter.

“We have lost another friend and songwriter today … Rest Easy Ed Bruce … many will remember him for songs like Mama Don’t Let Your Baby’s Grow Ip [sic] To Be Cowboys but we shall remember him for a song called I Know … look it up for a blessing … Goodbye brother and Thank You,” a tribute from country and gospel vocal quartet, The Oak Ridge Boys reads, who also added a picture of Bruce in their post on Twitter.