Wilburn Steven Rice

Obituary of Wilburn Steven "Bill" Rice



Wilburn Steven "Bill" Rice passed away peacefully at his home in Merrit Island, FL surrounded by family members on October 28, 2023.  He was born April 19, 1939, in Datto, Arkansas to parents Dewey “Wid” and Nova (Stevens) Rice.  

Rice had an illustrious career that span over 40 years as a country music songwriter, singer, publisher, and producer in Nashville, TN.   

He learned to play guitar at age fourteen and was signed to his first recording contract at age 18. In 1960, he had his first cut as a songwriter when Elvis Presley recorded "Girl Next Door Went A-Walking".

He charted six singles between 1971 and 1978, including the Top 40 hit "Travelin' Minstrel Man", but is better known for his songwriting abilities.

Rice began a co-writing partnership with another songwriter and the duo, Bill Rice and Jerry Foster, was known as the Song Factory.  In 1972, they won an unprecedented ten awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).  In 1974, they had eleven cuts on the country music charts at the same time. Two of the cuts received Grammy Award nominations: "Back Side of Dallas" by Jeannie C. Riley and "Here Comes the Hurt Again" by Mickey Gilley. Rice received a total of 73 ASCAP awards over his career.

A long list of distinguished artists have recorded songs written by Rice including Reba McEntire, Charley Pride, Jerry Lee Lewis, Robert Goulet, Sonny and Cher, Sammy Davis Jr, and others.

Rice has co-written thousands of songs to include "Someone to Give My Love To" by Johnny Paycheck, "Lonely Too Long" by Patty Loveless, "I'll Think of Something" by Hank Williams, Jr. (later recorded by Mark Chesnutt), "Would You Take Another Chance on Me" by Jerry Lee Lewis and "Wonder Could I Live There Anymore" by Charley Pride.

Aside from his incredible music career he encouraged and nurtured others who had a desire to pursue the same dream and he delighted in their success.  He had a heart of gold, was a master chef in the kitchen, could pilot an airplane or captain a yacht. To his family he was “Peep or Peepaw” and they are so blessed to have had him in their lives. Now, he is an angel in Heaven.

He was preceded in death by his parents, and his daughter Sandra Jo Rice-Fowler.

He is survived by his granddaughter Melissa Mae (Clint) Hanes; great grandchildren Joseph Baca; Alexis Baca; Hailey Sipe; bonus daughter Lisa McDowell; ex-spouse and life partner of 25 years Bonnie Rice; stepson, Jason Hicks; stepdaughter, Holly (Anthony) Trepka and 5 additional grandchildren. Avery, Alanna, Ariyah Hicks, Teddy, and Daisy Trepka.


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