Chet Flippo, a former Rolling Stone editor who had been serving as editorial director of CMT since 2001, died Wednesday morning in a Nashville hospital. He was 69.
Flippo, best known for his writing about country music, authored several books about musicians including Hank Williams and the Rolling Stones.
He started writing for Rolling Stone while a student at the U. of Texas at Austin, becoming New York bureau chief in 1974. The magazine said he left in 1980 to write "Your Cheatin' Heart: A Biography of Hank Williams."
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He wrote his weekly Nashville Skyline column for CMT.com as recently as June 6.
Colleagues remembered him as a champion of country music. "Chet respected the importance of real country music – he had a genuine understanding of its history and a true appreciation for it," Alan Jackson told Billboard.
"He loved country music too much to let Music Row get away with fostering hypes and copycat artists on the public. Because his criticisms came from a respected insider and known country music-lover, his columns were taken very seriously by the Nashville community," said CMT president Brian Phillips.
Flippo's wife, journalist Martha Hume Flippo, died last December.