Claude Putman Jr. aka "Curly Putman" the "Green, Green Grass of Home" composer died on Sunday of heart failure at his home in Lebanon, Tenn. He was 85.
"The Green, Green Grass of Home" became a worldwide hit for Tom Jones in 1967 and in 1975 was also a UK Top 30 hit for Elvis, his other hits included "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" for Tammy Wynette and "He Stopped Loving Her Today" for George Jones. "Curly" Putman turned out hundreds of songs, many of them country chart-toppers, after moving to Nashville and signing with Tree Publishing in the early 1960s. He was renowned as a song doctor who could transform a promising tune into a sure thing, and although he often wrote solo, many of his greatest hits were collaborative efforts.
His solo credits included "Dumb Blonde" (1967), which put Dolly Parton on the country charts for the first time, and "Blood Red and Goin' Down," a No. 1 hit for Tanya Tucker in 1973. No song of his proved more durable or popular than "The Green, Green Grass of Home," about a man who imagines returning home to his family and sweetheart, only to wake up and realize that he has been dreaming in his prison cell.
Curly Putman noted, "I wrote the best song I ever wrote and didn't know what I was doing. I do know I was touched deeply when I was singing it. I almost cried. I was struggling, trying to come up with something different." Claude Putman Jr. was born on Nov. 20, 1930, on Putman Mountain, near Princeton, Ala., northeast of Huntsville, named after the numerous Putmans who lived there. His father ran a sawmill. Mr. Putman was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1976.