GEORGE STRAIT's longtime songwriter Frank Dycus has passed away at the age of 72.

He died on Friday (23Nov12) after a long battle with illness.

Born in Kentucky, the star served seven years in the U.S. Air Force and then broke onto the music scene with his first hit Lilacs and Fire, which reached number 17 on the Billboard Country Singles Chart with recording artist George Morgan.

He later found success writing for Strait, whose Unwound and Marina del Rey were both penned by Dycus, as well as for George Jones on the track I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair.

Over the course of his 45-year career, Dycus penned more than 500 songs, including Mark Chesnutt's Gonna Get a Life and Gary Allan's Forever and a Day, and he also released two of his own albums, Horny Frank and the S**tkickers and Ghost Train.

Remembering his frequent collaborator Jim Lauderdale tells The Tennessean, "He was a real hillbilly poet, with a great sensibility and a way with words. He was a wise person and a deep thinker. I'm sure going to miss him, and a lot of other people will, too."