Mark James, who wrote ‘Always on My Mind,’ ‘Suspicious Minds,’ dead at 83

Mark James

Two-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter Mark James, whose “Always on My Mind” was a hit for Willie Nelson, and whose song “Suspicious Minds” rejuvenated Elvis Presley’s career, died June 8. He was 83.

James, who also co-wrote “Hooked on A Feeling,” died in Nashville, Tennessee, the Houston Chronicle reported.

He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014, Variety reported. BMI named him one of its Songwriters of the Century in 2000, according to the entertainment news website.

James won both of his Grammys in 1983 for “Always on My Mind,” which he co-wrote with Wayne Carson and Johnny Christopher. The tune was named Best Country Song and Song of the Year.

Nelson’s version was a crossover hit that went to No. 1 on the country music charts and No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, the Chronicle reported. The song was later covered by the Pet Shop Boys, Dave Gahan, Il Divo and David Hasselhoff. Last year, Amanda Shires and Bobby Nelson released a version of the song, according to the newspaper.

The Pet Shop boys’ version went to No. 1 in the United Kingdom and No. 4 on the U.S. charts, Variety reported. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.

James called “Suspicious Minds,” which in 1969 became the last of Presley’s seven No. 1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, “a sledgehammer,” the Chronicle reported.

Jones’ song, “Hooked on A Feeling,” sung by B.J. Thomas, went to No. 5 in early 1969, according to Billboard. Five years later the song went to No. 1 thanks to the “ooga-chaka” addition by Blue Swede, a band from Sweden.

The song also appeared in the films “Reservoir Dogs” (1992) and “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014), according to the Chronicle.

James was born Francis Zambon in Houston in late 1940, according to the newspaper. He graduated from Austin High School.

He began his career as a performer and changed his name when Houston club owners did not like the sound of his given name, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

James is also a member of the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame, the New York Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Variety reported.

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