96-Year-Old Writes Song for Dearly Departed Wife, Becomes Oldest Artist on Billboard’s Top 100

When a  96-year-old man becomes a social media sensation, it’s usually not too hard to see why.

Fred Stobaugh, the gent featured above, ran across a call for entries for Green Shoe Studio’s Singer Songwriter Contest and used it as an excuse to write a love song for his wife, Lorraine. That’s plenty sweet, especially when one does the math—Fred and Lorraine were together for 75 years, and married for all but three. When one learns that Fred buried his bride just six weeks before hearing about the contest, the story takes on a sort of romantic urgency. We need him to win this contest.

Rather than uploading a video of his “Oh Sweet Lorraine” to YouTube as instructed, Stobaugh slipped the lyrics into a manila envelope and mailed them off along with an explanatory note. Green Shoe’s Jake Colgan was open to the transgression, as befits a record producer who made the conscious decision to set up shop in Peoria, Illinois.

It’s safe to assume most of the entrants approached the contest with their eyes on the prize, a professionally recorded demo CD and photo shoot, and laurels with which to adorn their developing careers. No disrespect to them—they were following the rules in good faith—but the purity of Strobaugh’s motives no doubt set him apart as much, if not more than his longevity.

Speaking of which, it was just announced that Stobaugh has toppled the-then-85-year-old Tony Bennett to become the oldest artist ever appearing in Billboard’s Hot 100.

With all the attention being paid to the endearingly modest Mr. Strobaugh, let’s do take a moment to acknowledge this year’s actual contest winner Graham Cowger, as well as the runners up. A class act can be a difficult act to follow. To quote Lou Reed entirely out of context, “always back to Lorraine.”

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Ayun Halliday is reminded of the wonderful Joe Putterlik in Miranda July’s film, The Future. Follow her @AyunHalliday


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  • Courtney Krantz says:

    Just simply amazing!

  • suelynngr says:

    u2665 Beautiful, beautiful! Great job Jake – this touches my heart in the best way. :))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

  • womanbread says:

    Weeping while watching and listening to this. What a beautful sentiment and gesture expressing such a deep and profound love this man has felt for his beloved wife. Absolutely beautiful…touchingly so.

  • Diane Boyd says:

    this warms my heart in so many ways – good guys all around – thanks!!

  • Diane Boyd says:

    this warms my heart in so many ways – good guys all around – thanks!!

  • Raghuram Kandukuri says:

    I am just speechless for this Man. 75 years of love.

  • Shashank says:

    Tearfully joyous

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  • Vashti Puls says:

    Oh Dear sweet Fred that we could all be so lucky! Love means so much more than money. Teach us all that ! I am so sorry for your hurt and loss. A big part of you is gone but she remains forever with you. Now your Dearest heart will live on in other hearts as well! To the man who helped Fred …you are FANTASTIC you make me believe that dreams come true in many forms! Thank you too! It is never too late never. Never too late to find love, to get published, to have ones dreams come true. WOW The earth is full of love. Let us pass it on. Let us all share the love!

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