Songwriter Ed Setser, Who Wrote ‘Seven Spanish Angels’ and More, Dead at 77
Ed Setser, who made his name as a successful songwriter across multiple genres of music, has died. According to his obituary, Setser died on Monday (Jan. 27) at Baptist Health in Corbin, Ky., at the age of 77.
Born in Corbin to his parents, the late Edward T. Setser and Anna Mae Weldon Setser, Setser started his career in Cincinnati, where his family moved after his father got laid off from the railroad. In an interview with the Corbin Times-Tribune, Setser recalled that he began playing guitar by the age of 12, and by 19 he was playing dance clubs with a rotating roster of groups.
It was during that period that he met Troy Seals, who helped Setser learn to write songs after they both moved to Nashville. Once in Music City, Setser became a prominent writer who scored cuts from a long list of artists that included the Oak Ridge Boys, Reba McEntire, Brenda Lee, Faith Hill, Aretha Franklin and more, as well as a rock classic, Eric Clapton's "I've Got a Rock 'n' Roll Heart."
He wrote that song with Seals and Steve Diamond, and Setser and Seals would also team for Setser's best-known song, "Seven Spanish Angels." Ray Charles and Willie Nelson recorded the song as a seemingly unlikely duet in 1984 and released it as a single from Charles' Friendship album, and the result was a No. 1 country hit that spent 12 weeks in total on the country charts.
Setser also enjoyed a career as a performer that took him all over the world. Playing with James Brown, he performed at the Sydney Opera House and in South Africa. In his later years, he returned to Corbin to care for his ailing mother.
"It's really comfortable to be here," Setser told the Times-Tribune in 2016. "Once you've done everything, I mean that's it. Probably this stuff wouldn't have happened if I'd never left, but … There's so many nice people in Corbin. You kind of forget that when you go away. I like Corbin. I love my mom, and she's pretty much the last of my family … I ain't looking to do nothing I ain't already done. I don't miss nothing. I don't have a bucket list."
Corbin spent his final years quietly in his hometown, being actively involved in his church while still grieving the loss of his mother. He had been working on new songs at the time of his death, but none had been recorded. His cause of death has not been reported.
"Ed is survived by those he considered his family," his obituary reports. "His children, Andrew Mahan and Missy Mahan; grandchildren, Tytus, Jonah, and Silas Mahan."
A graveside service is set to take place at 4PM on Wednesday (Jan. 29) at Cumberland Memorial Gardens in Lily, Ky. Vankirk-Grisell Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
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