This year marks the 40th anniversary of Dan Tyler’s (BA 72, JD 75) career in the music industry, but as with many songwriters and musicians, his path into the business was not a direct one. Born in McComb, Tyler began his writing with poetry at age 5. By the time he was 16, he was writing songs for a band called The New Generation. The band recorded a couple of Tyler’s songs in1966, thus beginning his serious involvement in the music industry. In high school, Tyler always enjoyed writing, debate and politics, so he decided to attend Ole Miss for his undergraduate work beginning in 1968. After he graduated and still not knowing any other songwriters, he decided to pursue a law degree.
Throughout his undergraduate and law school career at Ole Miss, Tyler had a professional affiliation with a publishing company in Atlanta and enjoyed songwriting as a hobby.
“In college I was always the guy with the guitar,” says Tyler, who has fond memories of entertaining Archie Manning and Jim Poole. “I would sit and sing originals and country and they loved it.”
It was during law school that another classmate, Roger Wicker, arranged for him to meet with Jim Weatherly. Weatherly was the first successful songwriter that he visited and gave Tyler some good advice on his career. Weatherly told Tyler that he would have to make a choice because he could not be both a lawyer and a songwriter.
Throughout law school, Tyler assumed he would always be an attorney, though he received his first cut on a recording project during law school.
After graduation, Tyler clerked for a judge in Biloxi. He and his wife, Adele Brown Tyler (BA 72), “adventurously” moved to Nashville where he practiced law for four years while continuing his songwriting as a hobby. He knew then that he wanted that hobby to be a career.
“Weatherly was right,” says Tyler. “It took me a few years to realize that I could not be both a lawyer and songwriter.”
Tyler had success even during that period. He co-wrote with Eddie Rabbitt and had a taste of success with the single “Hearts of Fire”.
“There was a battle for my soul,” says Tyler.
He was security conscious in regard to his job and it was a huge jump, but he decided to give up his career as an attorney.
At that time Tyler experienced what he calls a miracle. Soon after he officially left the legal profession, a song that he and his wife co-wrote turned out to be a huge success. The song, “Bobbie Sue,” was a number one hit for the Oak Ridge Boys.
“After that happened, I have not looked back,” says Tyler.
Tyler has been in the music industry ever since, mainly as a songwriter, singer/songwriter, music producer and a producer.
Throughout his career, he has depended on his creative vision for guidance. For Tyler, record hits have come, but they are not necessarily the goal.
The artist is most proud of his work later in his career when he started making his own records. He currently has two recorded albums of his own songs titled I Hope and True Blue. Tyler is currently in the process of completing two new projects.
Music City Confidential, Tyler’s first novel, is a work of fiction. He says he intended the novel to be a page turner and was inspired by his fellow Mississippi ex-barrister John Grisham’s success. Music City Confidential is a short novel, only 200 pages, which sold over 2,000 copies in the first year it was published.
Tyler says the legal writing he had in law school was the best tool that he learned and now uses in his work. It taught him to write with clarity and this was a tremendous help when writing his first novel. He enjoyed his time at Ole Miss and calls it the “quintessential college experience.”
The song writer tends to be a workaholic when it comes to music and the music industry, but in his spare time he can be found reading a good book or finding out the latest in current events and politics.
Tyler is nominated for this year’s Mississippi Hall of Fame in the songwriter division. For more information on Dan Tyler and his success, visit www.dantyler.net.