Country singer Freddie Hart, who made his mark in 1971 with the breakthrough single "Easy Loving," died on Saturday (Oct. 27) at the age of 91.

Hart, a rebellious child who was born Frederick Segrest in Alabama and lied about his age to join the Marines at 15, had a slow but steady climb to eventual success. He moved to Nashville following his service in World War II and began working as a songwriter, penning tunes covered by Carl Smith, Patsy Cline, George Jones and others. He also spent time as part of Lefty Frizzell's backing band. In the early 1950s, he moved to Los Angeles, establishing himself as part of the West Coast country scene and identifying with the Bakersfield sound.

Although Hart had consistent momentum as a songwriter, his break as a solo artist didn't come until 1971, when his song "Easy Loving" took flight on radio, hitting No. 1 on the country charts and also impacting the pop charts. The tune won Song of the Year from both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music, as well as scooping up a Grammy Award.

He followed this with several other hits, including “My Hang-Up Is You,” “Trip To Heaven" and Bless Your Heart." Hart's last Top 40 hit was 1981's "You Were There"; he then moved to a career focused mostly on gospel music. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame in 2004.

Hart had just finished a new record prior to his passing, God Bless You, which was produced by Lefty Frizzell's brother David and is set for release later this year. He is survived by his wife and four sons.

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