Born: April 4, 1944 in Walden, Texas
Bob McDill’s music education began with viola lessons in the 4th grade. He learned to play guitar and went on to play in local bands throughout high school. He attended Lamar University from 1962-1966 and then enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve. After his time in the Navy, McDill moved to Memphis to pursue a career as a songwriter. Although he initially tried to write rock and pop songs, McDill shifted his focus to country after hearing George Jones' "Good Year for the Roses." McDill landed his first chart record as a songwriter in 1967 with Perry Como's "The Happy Man." Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs provided McDill with his second success when they recorded "Black Sheep."
McDill was active from the 1960s until 2000. During his career, he wrote or co-wrote 31 number-one country hits. His songs were also recorded by popular artists of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, including The Grateful Dead, Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Anne Murray, and B. J. Thomas. His movie credits include Primary Colors, The Thing Called Love, Texasville and the documentary Grizzly Man.
In addition to four Grammy nominations, McDill received Songwriter of the Year awards from Broadcast Music Incorporated, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, and the Nashville Songwriters Association International.
In the early 1980s, Grammy-winning pop singer Juice Newton released four McDill songs: "I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can," "Shot Full of Love," "Runaway Hearts," and "Falling in Love;" the songs appeared on Gold and Platinum-certified albums. "Don't Close Your Eyes" was recorded by Keith Whitley, reaching #1 in August 1988, and was covered by Kellie Pickler and Alan Jackson. Two of Mel McDaniel's biggest hits, “Louisiana Saturday Night” and “Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On,” were McDill compositions. McDill also co-wrote a song called "Someone Like You" with Dickey Lee, which can be heard on Emmylou Harris' album Profile II. He continued to write songs into the 1990s, including "Gone Country" by Alan Jackson, "All the Good Ones Are Gone" by Pam Tillis (which received a Grammy Award nomination in 1998), and "Why Didn't I Think of That" by Doug Stone.
McDill was awarded ASCAP's Golden Note Award in recognition of his "extraordinary place in American popular music at the 50th-anniversary celebration of the Country Music Awards in Nashville on October 29th, 2012. In September 2015, McDill received the Academy of Country Music's Poet's Award for lifetime achievement. Nobel Laureate Sir V. S. Naipaul's travelogue A Turn in the South written in 1989 features a section about Bob McDill. The often-acerbic Naipaul describes McDill's songwriting in a thoughtful portrait and liberally quotes from McDill's song "Good Ole Boys Like Me.”
He is the author of two books: Tales of the Old River Rod and Gun, Bloody Mary Society and Gentleman's Club, and The Ancestors and Descendants of Robert Nathanial McDill.
McDill retired from songwriting in 2000.
He is a member of the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Music Hall of Fame.