Author Paul Hemphill, onetime Chronicle writer, dies in Atlanta

Saturday, July 11, 2009 12:37 PM
Last updated 12:58 PM
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ATLANTA – Writer Paul Hemphill, who chronicled the blue-collar South with his memoir "Leaving Birmingham" and wrote a biography of country singer Hank Williams, has died at the age of 73.

Hemphill died early Saturday, according to A.S. Turner & Sons funeral home. He had spent some time in hospice care with cancer.

The son of a long-distance trucker, Hemphill grew up in Birmingham, Ala., and served with the Alabama Air National Guard. He worked in public relations and newspapers, including several years as a sports writer and columnist for The Augusta Chronicle.

He went to Atlanta in 1964 to join the short-lived Atlanta Times. He was hired away by the Atlanta Journal as a columnist.

During a Nieman Fellowship in 1968-69, he wrote "The Nashville Sound," which sold 75,000 copies in hardcover as a groundbreaking look at country music and the Grand Ole Opry.

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