Hal Ketchum, Opry member and ‘Small Town Saturday Night’ singer, dies at 67

Hal Ketchum, Opry member and ‘Small Town Saturday Night’ singer, dies at 67

Hal Ketchum, a 1990s country hitmaker and member of Nashville’s famed Grand Ole Opry, died this week at age 67.

Ketchum died from dementia complications, according to a post on his verified Facebook page Tuesday morning. Ketchum’s wife previously detailed his diagnosis in an April 2019 social media post.

“With great sadness and grief we announce that Hal passed away peacefully last night at home due to complications of dementia,” a Facebook post signed by his wife Andrea said Tuesday. “May his music live on forever in your hearts and bring you peace.”

Raised in Greenwich, New York, Ketchum relocated in 1981 to Austin, Texas, where he eventually began writing songs and performing in local clubs under his full name, Hal Michael Ketchum.

Hal Ketchum.

Independent success in Texas brought Ketchum to Nashville, where he signed with Curb Records and released his 1991 album, “Past the Point of Rescue.” On that record, Ketchum sang “Small Town Saturday Night,” a No. 2 hit on Billboard’s country chart that remains an early ’90s country staple embraced by listeners today.

The album earned Ketchum a gold certification, boosted by top 15 songs “I Know Where Love Lives” and “Past The Point Of Rescue,” which also reached No. 2 on the Billboard country singles chart.

His 1992 follow-up, “Sure Love,” delivered a trio of top 10 songs: “Sure Love,” “Hearts Are Gonna Roll” and “Mama Knows The Highway.” He’d continue to chart songs throughout the mid-1990s, including “(Tonight We Just Might) Fall in Love Again” and “Stay Forever.”

Ketchum joined the Grand Ole Opry on Jan. 22, 1994, per the show’s website.

The singer-songwriter began a public health battle in 1998, when he was diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis, a type of spinal inflammation causing temporary paralysis. The diagnosis forced him to learn how to walk and play guitar again.

Ketchum would continue to release music on Curb until 2008, when he announced his retirement and returned to Texas.

Retirement wouldn’t stick, however. Ketchum released “I’m The Troubadour” in 2014, his final album. He would perform live until 2018, when Ketchum retired from the road due to dementia.

Away from music, Ketchum appeared in 1988 film “Heartbreak Hotel” and 1994’s “Maverick.” Locally, in 2006, he played Mother Ginger in the Nashville Ballet’s “Nutcracker” production.

He enjoyed painting, carpentry and wrote short stories, according to the Opry.

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