October 21, 1978: Country Music Star Tragically Commits Suicide
Born in the 1930's near Grundy, Virginia, Mel Street was not a 'cosmopolitan' country music singer. He wasn't 'urban' country. He didn't try to crossover to pop music. What was he?
Well, when I started in radio back in the 1970's I considered Mel Street a great honky-tonk hard-core country music artist in the tradition of 1950's country music.
Mel had absolutely no problem singing about cheatin' and broken hearts. His first big hit single was 1972's "Borrowed Angel."
He followed that up with "Lovin' On Back Streets" and by the time I started in this business in 1974, Mel Street was a huge country music star. If you want a great cheatin' country classic, 'I Met A Friend Of Yours Today' would fit the bill.
Personally, my favorite Mel Street hit was "Smokey Mountain Memories" from 1975. Just a beautiful cut.
Mel compiled over a dozen Top Twenty hits in his career and was a constant on country music radio stations.
But there is something you may not know about this great country artist. Mel Street's life was cut tragically short, and by his own hand.
Mel committed suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot on his 43rd birthday, October 21, 1978. There were reports he suffered from clinical depression, alcoholism and loneliness from being on the road almost constantly and away from family and friends. Whatever it was, there is never a good reason for suicide.
How respected was the great Mel Street? His music idol George Jones sang "Amazing Grace" at his funeral. Yes, we lost a great artist who left us with great classic country music.
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