Country singer-songwriter and actor Ed Bruce passes away at 81

Bruce passed away of natural causes on January 8

Country musician and actor Ed Bruce passed away on Friday (January 8) of natural causes. He was 81.

Born William Edwin Bruce Jr. on December 29, 1939, Bruce is perhaps best known for co-writing ‘Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys’ with his then-wife, Patsy.

The song would go on to become a classic of the country genre, with Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings recording the most notable version of it. The track earned Nelson and Jennings a Grammy in 1978 and spent several weeks in the Billboard charts.

Bruce later found chart success of his own, scoring six hits in the Billboard Top 10 during the 1980s, including ‘After All’ and ‘You’re The Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had’. The latter, released in 1981, was the sole Number One of Ed Bruce’s recording career.

Ever the Renaissance man, Bruce also found success as a film and television actor. At the height of his recording career, he starred as ex-policeman Tom Guthrie in the short-lived Western television series, Bret Maverick. Bruce lent his dulcet tones to the series’ theme song as well.

Bruce was frequently cast as lawmen throughout his acting career, including in the 1997 Steven Seagal film, Fire Down Below, and in the biographical crime film Public Enemies, alongside Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.

Country musicians have taken to social media today (January 8) to commemorate Bruce’s life and career. Blake Shelton, BJ Thomas and Dallas Moore are among those to have paid tribute to the late musician.