Dwight Twilley, Pioneer Of Power Pop, Dies At 72

Dwight Twilley Makes Appearance at Oz Records, Atlanta
Dwight Twilley makes an in-store appearance at Oz Records on November 4, 1977 in Stone Mountain-Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Tom Hill/WireImage)

Dwight Twilley, the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based artist who pioneered the power pop movement of the 1970s and ‘80s, died Oct. 18 after reportedly suffering a massive stroke.

His death was confirmed by his wife, Jan, to the Tulsa World newspaper and and the Church Studio reported the news on its social media pages. The Church Studio was founded by Leon Russell and became the home base for a cadre of Tulsa musicians.

“With heavy hearts, we share the devastating news of Dwight Twilley’s passing,” Church Studio posted. “…He peacefully departed this world, surrounded by the love of his life, Jan, and close friends. 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’s biggest hit, “I’m On Fire,” was released in 1975 by Shelter Records after Twilley and musical partner Phillip Seymour shopped a demo to the label. Business troubles for the label followed, leaving the Dwight Twilley Band unable to capitalize on the record’s success. As a solo artist, Twilley had another hit with “Girls” in 1984, which struck a chord with nascent MTV.

Shelter Records was also home to other Tulsa-based artists including the Gap Band, and Mudcrutch – later to be known as Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Twilley performed on several Tom Petty records and vice versa, including Petty’s “Breakdown” and Twilley’s “Girls.”

Twilley most recently was invited to join Robert Plant, Neil Young, Jack White, Kings of Leon, Alanis Morissette, The Pretenders, The Bangles and others as performers at the 2018 Arroyo Seco Weekend Festival in Pasadena, California.

He was notified just a week before his death that he was to be inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall Of Fame.