Active primarily during the 1950s through 1970s, Collins was instrumental in helping create the Bakersfield sound of the country music genre. He enjoyed a string of hits during the mid-1950s including “It Tickles” and “Watcha Gonna Do Now”. He also wrote several songs for other artists, including “If You Ain’t Lovin’ (You Ain’t Livin’)”, which was a top 10 hit for Faron Young in 1954 and a No. 1 hit by George Strait in 1988.
After several years in the ministry, Collins returned to recording. In 1965, he had a comeback hit with “If You Can’t Bite, Don’t Growl”. In the 1970s, he wrote several hits for Merle Haggard, including the No. 1 hits “Carolyn” and “The Roots of My Raising”. In 1981, Haggard recorded a biographical tribute to Collins called “Leonard”.
Collins was the inspiration and character talked about in Craig Morgan’s song, “I Wish I Could See Bakersfield”
Collins remained active in the songwriting business. He died March 14, 2000, in Ashland City, Tennessee.
Edited by rdclarke on 4 Jun 2011, 08:00
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