Country Singer Ed Bruce Who Co-Wrote 'Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys' Dies at 81

Darlene Aderoju
·2 min read

David Redfern/Redferns Ed Bruce

Iconic country star Ed Bruce has died. He was 81.

Bruce died of natural causes Friday, PEOPLE confirms. Throughout his decades-long career, he had become widely known as a country music legend with several hit songs, including all-time classic "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," which he co-wrote with his then-wife Patsy Bruce before the pair ultimately divorced in 1987. In 1982, he released "You're the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had," featuring Lynn Anderson and it became country's No. 1 hit. The song charted for 21 weeks.

That same year, Bruce co-starred in TV series Bret Maverick, alongside James Garner. The late icon also appeared in many fan-favorite shows, including Walker, Texas Ranger and The Chisholms. His music has earned him 35 Billboard spots, including six Top 10 hits.

Stars began sharing their heartfelt condolences for Bruce soon after news of his death broke.

Blake Shelton wrote on Twitter, "Just hearing that Ed Bruce passed away ... What a standalone voice he had. He'll be remembered for his many talents including acting and maybe most important his songwriting ... Rest In Peace cowboy. I'm not loving 2021 so far."

The Oak Ridge Boys shared a tribute as well, tweeting, "We have lost another friend and songwriter today ... Rest Easy Ed Bruce ... many will remember him for songs like Mama Don't Let Your Baby's Grow Ip To Be Cowboys but we shall remember him for a song called I Know ... look it up for a blessing ... Goodbye brother and Thank You."

Kirk West/Getty Ed Bruce

RELATED: Jamie O'Hara — Country Songwriter Behind 'Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days') — Dead at 70

Born Dec. 29, 1939 in Keiser, Arkansas, the late icon was raised in Memphis, Tennessee, near the heart of country music. By the time he was 17, he had already caught the attention of record producer Sam Phillips and soon wrote and released his first song, "Rock Boppin' Baby." The track was released under his full name, Edwin Bruce.

In 1962, the star wrote "Save Your Kisses" for pop singer Tommy Roe. The following year, Bruce landed his first spot on the Billboard Bubbling Under chart with his recording of "See the Big Man Cry."

In the '80s, Bruce hosted shows Truckin' USA and American Sports Cavalcade. He was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the Arkansas Country Music Association in 2018.