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UPDATED: Veteran country music journalist Chet Flippo dead at 69

Posted 2:20pm on Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2013

Sad news out of Nashville on Wednesday: Journalist and critic Chet Flippo has died at the age of 69.

According to Flippo’s sister, Shirley Smith, he died from complications resulting from a fall at his Nashville home last week.

Flippo, a Fort Worth native, attended Amon Carter-Riverside High School before earning a bachelor’s degree at Sam Houston State and a master’s degree at the University of Texas in Austin.

Over the course of his career, he wrote for a host of music-related publications, including Rolling Stone and Billboard, as well as the New York Times, Texas Monthly and Country Music Television (CMT), where he served as editorial director until his death.

“He did what he liked to do,” says the 80-year-old Smith, by telephone from her Florida home, “and as far as I’m concerned, he did a damn good job as a writer.”

Flippo also served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, authored seven books, taught at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and earned numerous industry accolades for his writing. He was preceded in death by his wife, Martha Hume Flippo, who died as a result of complications from cancer in December.

“He’ll be missed by many people,” Smith says. “He was a very private person.”

Despite the geography separating the Flippo siblings, Smith says they kept in touch via phone and email, and made time for family visits over the years.

In a statement, CMT president Brian Phillips described Flippo as “honest to the core and ... a bit enigmatic.”

“Chet was a fierce advocate for country music long before country was cool,” Phillips said in a statement. “Because his criticisms came from a respected insider and known country music-lover, his columns were taken very seriously by the Nashville community. Chet kept everybody honest.”

Several Nashville-based stars have reacted to Flippo’s death, including Taylor Swift, who tweeted, “We've lost Chet Flippo, one of my favorite journalists, who devoted his life to writing about music from a place of integrity. So sad.”

He is survived by Smith, Bill Flippo of Saginaw and Ernie Flippo of Boston. Services are pending.

Preston Jones, 817-390-7713 Twitter: @prestonjones

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