Craig J. Martin, Writer of Tim McGraw’s ‘Don’t Take the Girl,’ Dies
Songwriter Craig J. Martin has died. Along with Larry Johnson, Martin wrote Tim McGraw's signature ballad "Don't Take the Girl." Johnson died last month.
Martin's son Keith confirms the news of his death to Taste of Country. The songwriter died on July 3 at the age of 52 due to a sudden cardiac event (likely a heart attack). He's remembered as a kindhearted father, a prolific songwriter and a man who could make anyone laugh.
"He wrote mostly about love and pain, two of the strongest human emotions and two that we are all experiencing simultaneously in a very crushing way right now know that Craig is no longer with us," his son writes in a GoFundMe that was started to raise for money to cover funeral expenses.
Craig J. Martin was the one who alerted Taste of Country to the death of his "Don't Take the Girl" co-writer in June, even going as far as to share the funeral notice and obituary. Keith Martin tells ToC he recalls helping his father with what to say about Johnson, which makes this news all the more shocking. "Don't Take the Girl" was a hit for McGraw in May 1994 and was always a favorite of the superstar's.
"Johnny’s daddy was taking him fishing / When he was eight years old," he sings to start, setting up a circle-of-life love story in three parts. Just recently, McGraw remade it with newcomer Blanco Brown.
Martin, a McMechen, W.V., native, moved to Nashville in the '90s and had lived there on and off since. After the McGraw hit, he kept writing and recording in addition to mentoring younger artists, per his official website. He also wrote for the Western Flyers, a swing band that has since broken up, and had six songs on a record made by new artist Geoff Buell. Martin performed his original songs live for fans through at least 2018.
A one-day funeral service and visitation for Martin is planned for July 11 at the Altmeyer Funeral Home in West Virginia. He leaves behind his wife, Lori Gallagher, as well as five children, Amanda, Craig Jr., Keith, Sami and Scarlett.
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