The Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer Busbee, who’s worked with everyone from Maren Morris, Keith Urban, Gwen Stefani and Lady Antebellum, has died aged 43, music publishing company Warner Chappell Music (WCM) has confirmed.
“Our hearts are broken by the loss of our friend busbee,” WCM said in a statement on social media on Monday, 30 September.
“He was an extraordinary human being whose generosity, spirituality and humour inspired everyone around him. An amazingly gifted songwriter, he used his talent, his music, and his love to break down boundaries and bring people together. He left us far too soon. Our deepest condolences go to his wonderful family and all his many friends. We love you.”
Busbee was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer, over the summer and was undergoing treatment, reports Variety.
The Californian songwriter and producer, whose name was Michael James Ryan, was known professionally as “Busbee,” was a respected songwriter and producer, who straddled the worlds of country and pop, writing songs for Nashville’s finest and producing pop hits for some of the biggest names in music.
He was recently nominated at 53rd Annual CMA Awards, as a producer for Maren Morris’ GIRL, which is up for Album of the Year, and also had writing credits on Pink’s ‘Try’ and Keith Urban’s ‘Fighter’, featuring Carrie Underwood. Busbee also worked on Morris’ 2016 album Hero, that established him as a hitmaker.
Originally hailing from the Bay Area, Busbee moved to Los Angeles in 2000 at the age of 24 to make it in the music industry, cutting his teeth by assisting producers like Eric Valentine (Smash Mouth’s ‘All Star’ All-American Rejects) and spending the rest of his 20s writing hits for successful reality-show alums like Adam Lambert, Katharine McPhee and Lauren Alaina.
Having grown up in the church, Busbee had an ear for gospel, and it was his gospel-pop fusion that turned the Florida Georgia Line’s ‘H.O.L.Y’ into the biggest-selling country hit of 2016.
Following the news of his passing, many of the artists who worked with Busbee have been sharing tributes on social media.
Shocked and saddened by the news today that we have lost Busbee. I am so grateful I was able to have collaborated with him. He was brilliant and warm, with palpable joy for his craft. RIP Sir.
— ADAM LAMBERT (@adamlambert) September 30, 2019
I was lucky enough to get to write and work with @busbee . So talented…always kind…taken from this earth far far too soon. Some things just don’t make sense. Please keep his family in your prayers. pic.twitter.com/MbOSzqFNJV
— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) September 30, 2019
My brother Michael…
You brought love and light and music that will live on and travel the world – i feel deeply grateful that our lives came together-and I send prayers of gratitude and peace and love to your spirit – and to your beautiful family. – KU pic.twitter.com/nv5XJlWpu3
— Keith Urban (@KeithUrban) September 30, 2019
Busbee is survived by his wife and three children.