Sammy Johns, who among other achievements wrote and recorded “Chevy Van”–one of the most iconic songs of the 1970s–has died. He was 66.

You may not know Sammy by name, but likely you’ve heard the song “Chevy Van” somewhere along the line. Many artists have covered it since it was first released in 1975, including Waylon Jennings, who included the song on his 1987 album Hangin’ Tough. Sammy Kershaw also took a swing at it.

More recently, Eric Church included a cover of “Chevy Van” on his Caldwell County EP.

Sammy Reginald Johns was a Charlotte, North Carolina native who got his first recording contract in 1973. “Chevy Van” became a Top Five single in 1975. The song’s laid-back, sing-along melody and love-in-a-van lyrics made it one of the most indelible pop songs of its time.

Johns wrote other songs, too, though he has more success as a songwriter, especially in the country field. Songs of his covered by country artists include “America” (a 1984 hit for Waylon Jennings); “Common Man,” which was turned into a Number One by John Conlee in 1982; and “Desperado Love,” a Number One for the late Conway Twitty in 1986.

Sammy Johns made his Grand Ole Opry debut in 2009, and he was introduced by none other than John Conlee.

Johns passed away Friday, Jan. 4 at Gaston Memorial Hospital near Charlotte.

– Kurt Wolff,

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