RIP Busbee — Grammy Nominated Songwriter And Producer Dead At 43

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How Did Busbee Die? New Details On The Death Of Songwriter And Music Producer At 43

Songwriter and music producer Michael Patrick Ryan, known professionally as Busbee, has died at the age of 43. He is credited with shaping the sound of current country music. He wrote hit singles for many artists, including Maren Morris, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, Garth Brooks, Little Big Town, and many others. Busbee also produced Gwen Stefani's You Make It Feel Like Christmas in 2017. He also co-wrote the six original songs on the album. He is survived by his wife Jessie and three children, including a newborn daughter. How did Busbee die?

1. He had brain cancer

Variety reports that a friend told the publication that Busbee was undergoing treatment for glioblastoma, an agressive form of brain cancer. He was reportedly diagnosed this summer. Glioblastoma is the same cancer that Senators John McCain and Edward Kennedy had. 

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2. From the Bay Area

Busbee grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area listening to jazz and the Hot Adult Contemporary Christian radio his mom liked. He started playing the piano at 7 and the trombone in high school. On the May 6th episode of the podcast And the Writer Is... Busbee told host Ross Golan that when he was 23, after college and living back at home with his mother, he was offered a job at the local church as the music pastor. He said: "There's so much music at church. You can feel it when a song feels like it's inspired."

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3. Move to L.A.

A year later in 2000, Busbee was 24 and decided to move to L.A. to try to get a career in the music industry going. His early niche was writing for past contestants of reality singing competitions like American Idol and The X Factor. This helped him hone his songwriting craft. In this capacity he worked with Katharine McPhee, Adam Lambert, Haley Reinhert, Scotty McCreedy and many others. 

4. Maren Morris 

Busbee worked closely with Maren Morris for a number of years. He worked on Morris's major label debut in 2016, Hero. The album was nominated for best country album and "My Church," which Busbee co-wrote, was nominated for best country song. In 2017, Maren told the Los Angeles Times: “We didn’t want my record to lull people into a comfortable vibe they’d heard a million times. Busbee was never afraid to take it there and get weird.” Busbee and Morris teamed up again for Girl, which was released in March. He produced 11 of the 15 tracks on her latest album. 

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5. Friends with Gwen and Blake

Busbee got close to Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton after writing "Every Goodbye" for Shelton's 2016 If I'm Honest album. He then, as mentioned, went on to work on Gwen Stefani's 2017 Christmas album. Stefani took to Instagram to post a tribute to her friend, writing: "I loved him so much! One of my favorite humans I’ve ever come to know in this life — we wrote some of my favorite music I’ve ever written — he was truly the definition of a good human — living his life sharing his gift w all of us — full of love talent and faith. Beyond broken today. Shattered. @blakeshelton thank u for introducing me to this legend — we r going to miss our friend see u up there Busbee. #Genius #ILOVEUANDUKNOWIT." Blake Shelton wrote: "I absolutely can’t accept the loss of mine and Gwen’s friend Michael (Busbee). Too much to say for social media. Too much pain and unfairness period. I guess sometimes you gotta dig extra EXTRA deep for peace to continue to have faith. And I will because Michael ALWAYS had faith."

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6. Posthumous awards?

Maren Morris's Girl is expected to be nominated for a slew of awards, including the Grammys, CMAs and Academy of Country Music Awards. The CMA nods are already out and Busbee is nominated for two — Album of the Year for Girl and musical event of the year for "All My Favorite People," Maren Morris' collaboration with Brothers Osbourne. Morris's Girl is also expected to be nominated for best country album at the Grammys and maybe even album of the year in the all genre category. At the ACM Awards, it is expected to be in the running for album of the year. 

7. Maren's tribute

After winning Album of the Year at the 2019 CMA Awards, Maren Morris called out Busbee saying, "I would be really remiss if I didn’t mention a huge facet of why this album sounds the way it does, and we miss him so dearly. He texted me the morning that we got the nomination for Album of the Year this year, and we were so excited — that’s our friend, Busbee.”

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer and editor covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.