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RIP Local Country Star Mundo Earwood

Country singer Raymond "Mundo" Earwood has passed after a long illness. The Del Rio native, who has long resided in the Humble area, was 61. The news came from a message on his Facebook page, which read in part, "We are of course deeply saddened by the loss of a great man, but we rejoice that today, Mundo is no longer suffering, and is at peace with his Father in Heaven."

Earwood had been battling pancreatic cancer since February 2013. Last month a benefit was held for him at Pasadena's Lonestar Club, with Randy Cornor, Pete Burke, Miss Leslie, Roy Head and others supporting the ailing singer.

After growing up in Corpus Christi, where he graduated from high school, Earwood enrolled in San Jacinto Junior College. But shortly after arriving in the Houston area, he formed a band and was working any joint that would have him for the princely sum of $8 a night. By 1971, he'd quit college and was working full-time as a musician.

In 1972 he went to Nashville, where he recorded "Behind Blue Eyes," which became an immediate hit in the Houston area. The song spent eight weeks as the No. 1 song on local country radio, and climbed to the middle of the national country charts. It stayed in the local charts for six months, and at age 18 Earwood found himself performing at the Grand Ole Opry.

In demand at every major venue in the area, Earwood became an integral part of the rough-and-tumble Houston country music scene of the 1970s, which culminated in the 1980 Hollywood blockbuster Urban Cowboy. By 1979, he had released 15 charting singles without ever recording an album. His career was hampered by contractual issues, even leading him to a brief period of recording as Mundo Ray.

But in 1980 he finally recorded a full album, Mundo Earwood, which featured a reworked version of "Behind Blue Eyes." While the album only made it to No. 42 on the country charts, it contained six charting tunes: "You're In Love With the Wrong Man" (27); "Can't Keep My Mind Off of Her," (26); "Blue Collar Blues," (40); "Angela," (32); "I'll Still Be Loving You," (45); and "Pyramid of Cans" (68).

Story continues on the next page.

Earwood's final charting single was 1989's "A Woman's Way," which peaked at No. 80.

Mel Tillis recorded Earwood's compositon "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" on his album Me and Pepper in 1979.

Like Moe Bandy, Gene Watson and some other country stars of the era, Earwood never switched over to the Willie-and-Waylon outlaw thing, preferring to stick with the traditional Nashville sound and most often working in ballad territory.

While Earwood continued to write and to perform with local outfit Southern Comfort, he had worked for DPIS, a local engineering and inspection firm, for some years.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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