Mark James: Legendary songwriter who wrote some of Elvis Presley's biggest hits dies aged 83

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Maerk James, who penned Elvis hits such as ‘Always On My Mind’ and ‘Suspicious Minds’, died at his home in Tennessee.

Legendary songwriter Mark James, who penned some of Elvis Presley’s biggest hits, has died at the age of 83.

James died at his home in Nashville, Tennessee on June 8. his family confirmed the news in the Houston Chronicle with a statement which read: “Mark’s legacy and zest for life will live on in the hearts of those who loved him, and through his timeless lyrics and melodies that have been the soundtrack of lovers for generations.”

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James’ biggest hits included the Elvis Presley tracks ‘Always On My Mind’, for which he won a Grammy Award alongside co-writers Wayne Carson and Johnny Christopher, and ‘Suspicious Minds’, which would go on to become The King’s last number one before his death in 1977. ‘Always On My Mind’ would go on to be a huge hit once again after it was covered by the Pet Shop Boys in the 1980s.

Legendary songwriter Mark James, who is known for penning some of Elvis's biggest hits, has died at the age of 83. (Credit: Getty Images)Legendary songwriter Mark James, who is known for penning some of Elvis's biggest hits, has died at the age of 83. (Credit: Getty Images)
Legendary songwriter Mark James, who is known for penning some of Elvis's biggest hits, has died at the age of 83. (Credit: Getty Images) | Getty Images

He also penned the song ‘Hooked On A Feeling’, which was originally written in 1969 for B.J Thomas but would go on to be covered by Blue Swede and The Hives. The song reached new levels of popularity with modern audiences after it was heavily featured in the Marvel film Guardians Of The Galaxy. His songs would go on to be covered artists including Willie Nelson, Jay-Z and Michael Bublé.

In 2014, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He was also named as one of BMI’s Songwriters Of The Century in 2000, joining the likes of Elton John and Paul McCartney.

James was born Francis Zambon in Houston, Texas in 1940. After performing locally at clubs in Houston, his career was temporarily put on hold after he was drafted into the Vietnam War. When he returned from duty, he signed to a Memphis-based publishing company where he launched his songwriting career.

James is survived by his wife, Karen Zambon, and their two daughters, Sammie and Dana. He is also survived by his grandchildren and extended family.

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