Tony Joe White of "Polk Salad Annie" fame dead at 75

Tony Joe White, who wrote Brook Benton's '70s classic "Rainy Night in Georgia" and took his own "Polk Salad Annie to the Top 10, died Wednesday at 75.

Over a  50-year career, White explored a wide range of musical styles from blues, rock and R&B, to country and Americana. The proof was in the diversity of artists who recorded his material: Elvis Presley, Tina Turner, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Joe Cocker, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Ray Charles

In a 2016 program at the Grammy Museum in L.A., Tony Joe White discussed the song that inspired him to become a composer:

“I heard a song on the radio called “Ode to Billy Joe.” When I heard that I said, “How real can you get, man?’ I AM Billy Joe, man. I been in them fields. I’ve been in them rivers. So I said, ‘If I ever try to write anything it’s gonna be really real.’ So I knew about ‘Polk Salad’ from my mother and I knew about “Rainy Nights in Georgia ‘cause I drove a dump truck through Marrietta, Georgia when I was 18 and got out of high school.”

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