Dwight Twilley, the singer-songwriter known for power-pop hits such as ‘I’m on Fire’ and ‘Girls’, has died at the age of 72. His death was confirmed in a statement from Tulsa’s Church Studio. “He peacefully departed this world, surrounded by the love of his life, Jan, and close friends,” it reads. “The loss is immeasurable, and our words can’t capture the depth of our grief. Dwight’s musical prowess touched countless lives, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of many. We are profoundly thankful for the enduring musical legacy he has bestowed upon us all.”
Twilley was born on June 6, 1951, in Tulsa, Oklahome, where he met Phil Seymour and formed the group Oister in the late 1960s. The duo eventually decided to leave Tulsa and ventured to Memphis, Tennessee to pursue professional recording. The first studio they wandered into was Sun Studios, where they met Sam Phillips’ son Jerry, who referred them to former Sun artist and producer Ray Harris. The duo credited Harris for introducing them to rockabilly and “roughing up their Beatles-obsessed style a bit,” per Twilley’s official website.
In 1974, Twilley and Seymour went to Los Angeles and signed to Shelter Records, co-owned by Denny Cordell and Tulsa’s Leon Russell. The label changed their name from Oister to the Dwight Twilley Band, whose debut single ‘I’m on Fire’, recorded at Church Studios, reached No. 16 on the Billboard charts in 1975. The Dwight Twilley Band put out two studio albums, Sincerely and Twilley Don’t Mind, which featured an appearance from their friend and label mate Tom Petty. The band broke up in 1978.
Twilley continued his career as a solo act. In 1984, he released the album Jungle and scored another top-20 hit with ‘Girls’. The Great Lost Twilley Album, which compiled early unreleased songs Twilley and Seymour had recorded for Shelter, came out in 1993. Twilley released his final album, Always, in 2014.