A Star Has Died

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Earlier today I was informed of the death of Daron Norwood, a country singer who, in the early 1990s, sat on the verge of stardom. He was good looking, energetic and talented, and two of his songs (Cowboys Don’t Cry and If It Wasn’t for Her, I Wouldn’t Have You) reached the  Top 40. I posted news of his passing on Twitter and, to my dismay, nobody seemed to care. Or remember.

But I do.

Back in June 1994, I was a brand new, out-of-college features writer for The Tennessean, and my editor assigned me to profile someone we deemed to be a hot new star in the genre. Hence, I was sent out to Fan Fair, the annual Nashville country music festival, and told to spend a few hours with Norwood, who would be signing autographs and posing for pictures in his designated booth.

I did as I was instructed—and loved it. I immediately understood what the fuss was about. Despite having one leg in a large cast (he’d suffered a bone contusion while leaping from a stage in Wichita Falls, Texas), Norwood was a bundle of energy. Kissing. Hugging. Poking. Prodding. “I’m 40 and in absolute love with him,” a woman named Delaine Jones told me. “I would go out on a date with him in a second. He’s incredible.” Upon returning to my empty apartment, I took the small Daron Norwood photo someone had handed me and stuck it to the wall. He was, in a sense, the first celebrity I’d known, and I decided to keep a watch on his destined-to-be-marvelous career …

•••

Alas, destiny is funny. Daron Norwood never became a true star. He quit chasing the dream in 1995, explaining to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that alcoholism had ruined him, and that he was downing between 20 and 25 shots of Jack Daniels per night. My promise to keep a watch on Norwood was forgotten, though every so often I’d do a Google search to see if anything new popped up. The news—if there were any—rarely read well. In 2008 he was arrested for allegedly beating his wife. A year later, Norwood agreed to speak to students at Panhandle High (in Panhandle, Texas) on the dangers of drug addiction. Instead, according to a news report, he, “spent nearly two hours shouting at students and faculty, running around the gym, using inappropriate language, playing music and that he barely spoke on the subject of drug abuse. A teacher finally pulled a fire alarm to get students out of the gym, and police were called to ask him to leave the school.”

I did a YouTube search for Daron, and the stuff I found was, well, heartbreaking. The man once deemed a future star was, in 2012, performing outside of a Texas bar called Garcia’s, playing keyboard, dressed sloppily. You can hear people chattering in the background. My guess is there are, oh, 20 folks in attendance. Maybe less.

Last year, I actually tracked Daron down and asked, via Facebook, if he’d like to do a Quaz Q&A. I reminded him of my Tennessean profile, which he said he remembered. He told me in a long voice message that he felt God had put us back together, and we should definitely do the interview. Alas, I got busy, kind of forget, then definitely forgot. About four months ago, I left Daron a message, apologizing for the lengthy delay, but telling him I was ready and excited.

I never heard back; never heard another word about Daron Norwood. Until today, when a friend of his told me he had died.

Daron Norwood was 49.

To me, he’s never been the faded has-been with the dreams gone bust.

Nope, he’s that kid with the leg cast and the big smile.

To me, he’s a star.

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21 thoughts on “A Star Has Died”

    1. Nicole Birdwell-Smith

      You have class! Rare in this business but I admire you with only reading your work! Such a quaint way of a gentle soul who just broke a little and never got the chance or help to redeem himself. In a business with pointing fingeres are always pointing! I met him! He was a good caring soul. He was hurt and not slit done to help heal but a lot done to hurt. He loved his granddaddy!

  1. I had found him on Facebook months ago and thanked him for giving me an incredible memory along with my dad (who had recently passed) in NM @ a concert. What an incredible talent he had and he made sure that your experience lasted a lifetime. A devastating loss.

  2. I too was a HUGE fan of his that followed his career through the years. Funny I count him as one of my first celebrities as well b/c every time I saw him, he remembered my name. I will never forget the time we got to the club early to have dinner before his show. He saw us, came running over plopped down in our booth & had dinner with us! I was so excited when I heard he was recording/doing small shows again, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Hopefully now he’s at peace finally.

  3. Christi Platt Gasser

    I was in love with Darren, I was good friends with his sister Misty (DooDah)! He was an awesome singer. I even spent the Christmas holidays with all of his family. He had a beautiful daughter. She’s all grown up by now. Wow. I look him up now and then, but lost contact with the Norwoods. I can’t believe he’s gone. How did it happen? And Misty contact me if you read this please. Darren you will be missed.

  4. Kimberlee Maddocks Norwood

    I met Daron back in early 90’s performing in San Antonio at a bar now shut down. He was related to my then husband through his dad. Hugh Jack and my ex-husband’s Grandfather were brothers. So that makes him a third cousin to my son. I tried to keep up with Daron from then on as he had a very beautiful gift. He sang Amazing Grace at that performance and brought the audience to tears. The last performance he had here in San Antonio, I saw the beginning of his down fall he was drunk and made some very ugly comments to Randy Carroll, The DJ for KJ97 here in San Antonio. It was shortly after that he disappeared from Country Music which had to have been prior to 1997, which was the last time I saw him. I was pregnant with my son and we were at a Rodeo in Bandera and he was scheduled to perform at a Bandera, TX local bar. I hope he is at piece, and he was met at the pearly gates by his father. I am not sure what happened to him to cause his death, I do know heart disease runs in his family as my ex-husbands grandfather died in his early 60’s due to heart disease and my ex-father in law has had several bi-pass surgeries since his early 50’s.

  5. Yes Daron was a great person , he also was a friend of our family. He helped my mom out with her songs. I still remember him chasing me with a snake he found in Tahoka Tx . I’ll miss you Daron

  6. In the 80s, Daron and I would occasionally sing together as a duo and in a teenage gospel quartet when we were high school students and members of the same church youth group. He was one of the most talented musicians I knew back then.

  7. Thank you for remembering him as a person and not as a has been. I have followed Daron for a very long time…he was sweet and talented…and at times, haunted by what might have been…but aren’t we all? My heart goes out to his family…and prayers are being sent for comfort and the wish that Daron has found his peace…..

  8. Daron and I were tight, early on, as I was a Program Director in radio. He and I made the rounds and it was always a large time. I had the privilege to host Daron on stage, on-air and at events throughout the Gulf Coast. I just got the word this morning of his passing. I am heartbroken and pray for his family.

  9. His facebook page is heartbreaking. Apparently he had a little boy, whom he called his world. So sad. May he rest in peace.

  10. You and I locked horns over a debate over Tom Landry years ago when I interviewed you for the Fort Hood Sentinel. I have to say, you did my fellow Texan a real nice turn with this blog post. Thank you. Done like a gentleman.

  11. Sandra Green Langston

    I was at that same show at Fan Fair. He put on a fantastic show that day and I was an immediate fan. I saw him a few years ago at the Farmers’ Opry here in Pensacola, FL. He again put on a great show. He had conquered the demon alcohol and was also going into high schools and giving motivation talks about depression and alcoholism. God bless Daron Norwood. I agree, he was a star.

  12. My husband was his touring drummer for many years. Daron was one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever known. He was a true performer with one of the biggest hearts and gave everything of himself when he was on stage. He was dynamic and warm and I will forever remember him for how gracious he was to his fans. Look him up on YouTube and listen to some of his music, you will be amazed. He will always be a star and this Lubbock girl will never forget him! Thank you Daron for all you gave us!

  13. I remember that article in the Tennessean back then. I have followed him since the beginning and am proud to say we became friends over the years. I’m still friends with some of his old band and he was recently planning on getting back on the road. I truly believe if the label would have promoted him like they did someone else who was signed at the same time, they would have had 2 huge stars instead of 1 who is not entertaining anymore. His show was very entertaining and he was always great to his fans. He may have had his demons but he had worked hard on putting them behind him. When I got the news last night I cried hard for 3 hrs and am still in shock. I just can’t believe it. So many memories we made and he always was so good with my kids who are just as shocked as I am. Love you Daron and will miss you so much! Rest in peace my friend.

  14. I love what you wrote. I was an intern at Giant Records when he was on the label. Such a nice, down to earth guy. I even got to sing back-up on “Bad Dog, No Biscuit” at the Wildhorse Saloon. Sad to hear about the addictions.

  15. Alyssa Ray Rollins

    Like so many others, I also am saddened to hear of Daron’s death. I am glad I came across your article as I’ve often wondered what ever happened to him. Your description of Daron was exactly the way I remember him. As a young new artist at that time with my first record deal, I met Daron at Vanderbilt Voice Center and we became friends. I know he battled many demons like so many of us do. It’s tragic to learn what became of him and that the demons which he battled conquered him.

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