Music News

96-Year-Old's Love Song Breaks Onto Billboard Hot 100 List

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

At 96, Fred Stobaugh recently became the oldest artist to appear on the Billboard Hot 100 for a song he wrote for his late wife. Audie Cornish and Robert Siegel have more.


Finally, this hour, words of love that became a chart-topping song.

FRED STOBAUGH: That's how it all began. I was just lonely one evening and just sat down and wrote it.

SIEGEL: That's Fred Stobaugh. Earlier this summer, the 96-year-old submitted lyrics to a local songwriting contest at Green Shoe Studio in Peoria, Illinois. The song was in memory of his late wife, Lorraine.

STOBAUGH: She was just one of the beautiful-est girls in the world. She could stand up to anybody, movie stars or anybody.


Lorraine died back in April, just a few months shy of their 73rd wedding anniversary. Stobaugh's entry did not win but it did catch the attention of Green Shoe Studio's CEO, Jacob Colgan.

JACOB COLGAN: It was just so touching and so heartwarming, I had to call him. And the team here at the studio decided we had to bring his song to life.

CORNISH: About a month later, Stobaugh's handwritten lyrics turned into the fully produced "Oh, Sweet Lorraine."


COLGAN: (Singing) Oh, sweet Lorraine, I wish we could do all the good times over again. Oh, sweet Lorraine...

SIEGEL: That's Jacob Colgan singing. Green Shoe Studio posted a video on YouTube of a visibly moved Stobaugh listening to the song for the first time with Colgan.

STOBAUGH: It's wonderful, just wonderful.

COLGAN: Good. I'm glad you like it. So glad you like it.

STOBAUGH: It's wonderful.

COLGAN: It's the most nervous I've been taking someone a song in years because it meant so much.

SIEGEL: This week, "Oh, Sweet Lorraine" debuted at number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100, making Fred Stobaugh the oldest artist ever to appear on the chart. The song also has more than 100,000 downloads on iTunes. Again, Green Shoe CEO and the voice behind "Oh, Sweet Lorraine," Jacob Colgan.

COLGAN: He goes, do you know who this Justin guy is? And we're like, yeah, Justin Timberlake? He goes, yeah, well, evidently, I passed him right on by.

CORNISH: But Colgan says the fame hasn't gone to Stobaugh's head. In fact, Stobaugh has a hard time believing everything that's happened.

STOBAUGH: I just - I'm sitting here thinking it's a big dream. I just think it's a big dream and I'm going to wake up.

CORNISH: But for Fred Stobaugh, the dream is real. And now, thanks to Jacob Colgan and his team, so is his song.


COLGAN: (Singing) Oh, sweet Lorraine, I wish we could do all the good times over again. Oh, sweet Lorraine, life only goes around once, but never again. Oh, sweet Lorraine, I wish we could do all the good times over again. The good times.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor