In Memoriam: Peter Cooper (December 6, 2022)

Journalist, songwriter, and musician Peter Cooper has passed away at the age of 52.

The Tennessean reports:

Peter Cooper, an award-winning country music journalist and Grammy-nominated musician, died Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn. after suffering a head injury from a fall. He was 52.

A native of South Carolina, Cooper moved to Nashville in the year 2000, joining The Tennessean as a music writer. He soon established himself as a brilliant, unmistakable voice in country music criticism, filling his stories with earned insight, gentle wit and a well-placed baseball reference.

This is such a tremendous loss for the songwriting and musician communities within country music, and it’s an especially devastating blow to country music journalism.  Perhaps Cooper’s own talent as an artist gave him additional insights that helped make his writing so powerful.  His writing has always been inspirational, aspirational, and undeniably essential.  His insights, combined with his talents, made him the perfect steward of the Country Music Hall of Fame in recent years.

The article from the Tennessean highlighted his philosophy on writing about music, and all of us should print it out and place it somewhere prominent:

“Now, for sure, you need a good bullshit detector, and you shouldn’t rant, and you shouldn’t cheerlead.

“But objectivity is dispassionate. And we’re in the passion business. We’re trying to make people feel something different than what they felt before they read our words.”

Words to live by, as Peter Cooper did.

Our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

Please consider donating to the fund set up for his son’s education, as shared in the article above:

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to either the Baker Cooper fund to support Peter’s son’s education, or the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, supporting their cultural organization’s educational mission. 

Send donations to:

Baker Cooper c/o Wells Fargo Bank

1712 West End Avenue

Nashville, TN 37203


  1. Such sad news. I was really hoping he’d pull through. His writing was a big part of getting me to appreciate the history of the genre as well as to think differently about current music.

  2. Such a loss. I read Peter’s book Johnny’s Cash & Charley’s Pride a while back and enjoyed his retelling of legends he rubbed shoulders with. Peter had an inimitable writing style that was at once relaxed, inspiring yet informative. One of the chapters was devoted to Taylor Swift, and I’ll never forget how he stood up for Taylor back when her songwriting was scruntinized unfairly, which he correctly attributed to the sexism of its day.

    RIP Peter Cooper… may you meet your friends and heroes up above again.

  3. “Charley’s Cash & Johnny’s Cash” blew me away when I was gifted it for Christmas in 2017. Absolutely essential reading I revisit at least once a year.

    I wish I was more familiar with his work for “The Tennessean.”

    Writers as skilled and insightful as Cooper are as important as the musicians and industry they write about.

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