There are many who have played a part in the landscape of country music, many who have added their talents to the tapestry of the music genre that has had an impact on so many lives. many who have affected the history of Nashville and country music and many who have left us sooner than we would have liked.
One of those people is Hazel Smith.
According to “The Tennessean,” the longtime Nashville media personality passed away at her home on March 18 following “a period of declining health.” She was 83.
Declaring herself country music’s mother hen, Hazel was a fixture on Nashville’s Music Row for decades. She was a journalist when female journalists weren’t a common thing. She was also a songwriter, a publicist, a cookbook author and a television personality as host of CMT’s “Southern Fried Flicks.”
Yet, one of her most meaningful and lasting contributions to country music is the fact that she coined the term “outlaw music” while she was working as a publicist back in the early 1970s for the Glaser Brothers’ Hillbilly Central office and studio.
“Now, it doesn’t say this in mine or any other dictionary I’ve seen, but it said that ‘outlaw’ meant virtually living on the outside of the written law,” Hazel told “The Nashville Scene” in 1997, as reported on by “The Tennessean.” “It just made sense to me, because [record producers] Owen Bradley and Chet Atkins were doing marvelous music, but this was another step in another direction.”
Soon after the news of her death was released, many in the country music community headed to their social media accounts to express their sadness over the news, including producer Buddy Cannon.
Very sorry to hear of the passing of Hazel Smith,” Buddy said. “Hazel was a wonderful lady who was a great friend to many of us. She was a colorful, tell it like she saw it kind of a person, and you never had to wonder about her stand on something. Willie Nelson credits Hazel with connecting the term ‘outlaw music’ with himself, Waylon, Tompall [Glaser] and all the musical renegades that broke out of the Nashville music factory prison back in the 1970s. We all loved Hazel, and her presence will not soon be forgotten. Rest easy Hazel Smith.”
We send our condolences to all who loved Hazel.