In Memoriam: Doug Supernaw (1960-2020)

Nineties country star Doug Supernaw has passed away from cancer at the age of 60.

USA Today reports:

After working on oil rigs and as a concert promoter in Texas, Supernaw moved to Nashville in the late ’80s to work as a staff writer for a music publishing company, but moved back to Texas where he could perform more. He began opening for national acts that came through Tyler, Texas and gained a wider following, eventually attracting the interest of Nashville label BNA Entertainment.

His debut album, “Red and Rio Grande,” was released in 1993 and was certified gold. The music video for “I Don’t Call Him Daddy,” a No. 1 hit about a divorced father and his son, featured Supernaw and his real son.

He earned a new male artist and song of the year nominations from the Academy of Country Music in 1993, but his second album “Deep Thoughts From a Shallow Mind,” released in 1994 was less successful. He switched labels and released a third album called “You Still Got Me,” in 1995, which produced a Top 5 country hit “Not Enough Hours in the Night.”

Supernaw released a greatest hits album in 2017.

Supernaw was a sentimental favorite for us here at Country Universe, who remember his string of hits from the 1990s quite fondly.

We send his family, friends, and fans our deepest sympathy.

8 Comments

  1. I always liked Doug Supernaw – his first single “Honky Tonkin’ Fool” (similarly themed to Diffie’s “Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox [If I Die]”) should have been a bigger hit. His 4th album, FADIN’ RENEGADE was released on the Tack label and is an underappreciated gem from 1997

    As I recall he caught a lot of flack from the PC thought police for his recording of “What’ll You Do About Me” but it was a good recording and deservedly a top thirty hit

    RIP

  2. Yet another terrible loss in the 2020 that just won’t quit. What makes Doug’s passing more saddening is that it happened just when his personal life was finally getting better again and was making a successful comeback to performing and recording.

    My personal favorite song and video of his is “Not Enough Hours In The Night.” Even at 10/11 years old, I remember always loving that song whenever it came on the radio, and I still love the line “I wish I could set that clock to moonlight savings time.” Not to mention, it just brings back some great memories for me, too. I also really love his first two albums, especially his underrated (imo) second album, Deep Thoughts From A Shallow Mind. Lots of great lesser known songs on there like “State Fair,” “Shut ‘Er Down,” “Twistin’ Tops,” “Mesquite Cowboy Mind,” “After The Storm,” and “Wishing Her Well.” Also love “Reno,” “I Don’t Call Him Daddy,” “Red And Rio Grande,” and “Five Generations of Rock County Wilsons” from his debut.

    RIP, Doug Another gone too soon.

  3. Regarding “What’ll You Do About Me,” I think a thread about memorializing Doug Supernaw should give him the proper credit for what he did in response to the backlash the song was receiving.

    It being pulled from radio wasn’t because of some faceless “PC thought police” somehow pulling the strings. The song was first dropped by an Indiana radio station in response to a local woman who had been murdered by a stalker. The implied violence of the lyric made it impossible for them to keep the song on the air.

    This was also going on against the backdrop of the O.J. Simpson trial, which had created a national dialogue around domestic violence, an issue that simply wasn’t taken as seriously before this.

    Supernaw put out an alternate version that removed the violent lyric, replacing “I’m on the porch with a two-by-two” with “I’m on the porch with dinner for two,” but by that point, the song was petering out at #16.

    Supernaw’s label, which had become bloated in Joe Galante’s absence, had already dropped several artists when Galante returned to the helm, and they dropped Supernaw shortly afterward. He resurfaced on Giant later that year and had another big hit, but he was soon impacted by that label’s struggles, too.

    I’d hate to see history rewritten here to present Supernaw as a victim of some nefarious forces operating in the shadows. He made an active, responsible choice when a song of his was being received in a way that wasn’t intended, but was potentially harmful. He deserves all the credit in the world for that.

    He still bounced back with another hit on his new label, but the choice he made definitely slowed his career momentum. Holly Dunn and Pam Tillis made similar choices to pull songs from the radio, but Dunn was already fading from rotation when she pulled “Maybe I Mean Yes,” and Tillis wasn’t derailed at all by pulling “I Was Blown Away” and sending “In Between Dances” to radio a few weeks earlier than planned.

    Supernaw did the right thing with this record, and paid a heavier cost than other artists who made the same choice. Let’s not rob him of his agency as we mourn his death.

  4. Not entirely true:

    According to wikipedia (not always the most reliable source): “Due to concerns that the lyrics were overly favorable to the concept of a stalker in the wake of the O. J. Simpson trials, BNA Records sent out an alternate version which replaced the line “I’m on the porch with a two-by-two” to “I’m on the porch with a dinner for two.” This altered version still met negative reception from radio programmers, and fell swiftly from the number 16 position on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. WTHI-FM in Terre Haute, Indiana also withdrew the song from rotation after a woman in that city was murdered by a stalker. Supernaw had wanted to ask his label to release another single from the project, but the label instead chose to drop him due to the ensuing controversy.”

    Jack Hurst’s Chicago Tribute column (which also appeared in the Orlando Sentinel and other newspapers) corroborates the wiki article

  5. That’s pretty much my point. It wasn’t vague “powers that be” that led to the change. It was a tragedy in a specific city and a larger national conversation about domestic violence that didn’t exist when the song was released by other artists in earlier years.

    “Independence Day” was a big part of that conversation, too.

    Doug Supernaw getting dropped by BNA is an unfortunate post-script, but wasn’t just driven by what happened to this record. The label had already pared back its roster in early 1995 and his relationship with the label was fraught before the single release.

  6. It’s too bad that Doug Supernaw has passed. But the fortunes of Doug Supernaw doesn’t have much to do with one song.

    If there wasn’t room for George Ducas on the radio (per the article below), then there wasn’t room for lots of other folks in that time of plenty in the 90s.

  7. Well that sucks. “Reno” is an underrated classic, and the reason that Red and Rio Grande is one of a handful of albums I have purchased in three different formats — cassette, CD, and MP3. I still like that song a lot, and the rest of the album (with the exception of “Daddy’s Girl”) has held up well over the years for me as well.

  8. @the pisterolo – I agree completely! That album is one of my most-played from that era and I never really liked “Daddy’s Girl” much but the rest of the album is awesome and holds up well.

    @Paul W Dennis – I agree that “Fadin’ Renegade” was underappreciated and underrated. I don’t believe it got much notice at all but I really enjoyed it.

    Regarding “What’ll You Do About Me,” I vaguely recall some controversy at the time – didn’t Randy Travis also record this song? I don’t remember there being much talk about his version, but maybe it was released earlier the Doug Supernaw’s version and it wasn’t a single?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.