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February 15

Who Wrote “Tennessee Whiskey” And Who Sang It First?

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“Tennessee Whiskey” has Chris Stapleton to thank for its No. 1 at the US Billboard Hot Country Songs. Stapleton and Justin Timberlake’s medley of the song at the 2015 Country Music awards drove it to greater popularity. But who wrote “Tennessee Whiskey” and who sang it first? 

The song was originally written by Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove back in 1981. They met together in Nashville at a cafe called Bluebird and then went on to write the song at Hargrove’s house. 

When it was finished, the song was first pitched to George Strait, but he turned it down. David Alan Coe was the country music artist who originally recorded “Tennessee Whiskey.” He made the song the title track of his 1981 album of the same name Tennessee Whiskey

Coe’s version managed to reach No. 77 on the Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart. Another country music artist, George Jones, then covered the song, and his version reached No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot Country Singles.  

But it was singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton’s R&B-influenced version of “Tennessee Whiskey” that pushed the song to reach No. 23 on Billboard Hot 100, and No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs Chart. 

Stapleton performed “Tennessee Whiskey” with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA which proved to be a life-changing night for Stapleton and “Tennessee Whiskey” as both became an overnight sensation. 

Stapleton won three CMA trophies and the song sold 131,000 downloads the following week. The numbers continued to go up, until in May 2016, “Tennessee Whiskey” was marked platinum by the RIAA. 

Despite being propelled to stardom by Stapleton, “Tennessee Whiskey” was written by Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove at 4 AM in Nashville and was first recorded by David Alan Coe. 


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chris stapleton, David Alan Coe, George Jones


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