Jim Weatherly’s best-known song is “Midnight to Train to Georgia,” but it’s another song that he wrote, which was recorded by Gladys Knight and the Pips, that helped forge an important country music relationship with Ray Price.
Price, a Country Music Hall of Famer artist, released “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” in 1973, and it became his final No. 1 hit. Knight would release her version one year later, taking it to Top 5 on the pop charts; without a doubt, it’s that version that’s best remembered.
On Twitter, Knight reflected on the three huge hits (including “Neither One of Us”) she had from the songwriter in a five-single span in 1973-74 after Weatherly died at home on Wednesday (Feb. 4). The Songwriters Hall of Famer also wrote songs for Kenny Chesney, Kenny Rogers and more.
“I’m missing Jim Weatherly already. He was about life and love. Neither One of Us and Midnight Train – I remember him getting his Grammys for those. We were just made for each other. We grew our lives together. I’m gonna miss him terribly and love him always.”
— Gladys Knight (@MsGladysKnight) February 4, 2021
Weatherly was 10 years out of college at Ole Miss when he wrote for Price and Knight. While in school, he led the football team to a national championship as quarterback, but chose to pursue songwriting instead of the NFL. The Pontotoc, Miss., native lived in Los Angeles before moving to Nashville, but he was still able to get his music into Price’s hands. Several songs from the You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me and Like Old Times Again albums were penned by Weatherly, including singles in “Storms of Troubled Times” and “Like a First Time Thing.”
The Tennessean first shared news of Weatherly’s death, noting that he was ASCAP Songwriter of the Year in 1974, as “Midnight Train to Georgia” was reaching its peak on several charts. Industry veteran Charlie Monk tells the newspaper he’ll remember Weatherly as a man of high character, first and foremost.
“He never had a cigarette in his mouth, he never had a taste of alcohol, he didn’t chew, he didn’t cuss. The only cuss word I ever heard him use was ‘Foot! Charlie,'” Monk shares.
Weatherly was 77 years old at the time of his death. He was a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.