Grammy-nominated music producer and songwriter Michael James Ryan, known professionally as “busbee,” a staple of the Nashville music community who worked with artists from Marren Morris to Shakira, has died at 43.
Many of the Busbee’s friends and collaborators shared the news on social media Sunday evening. Morris, who worked with the producer on her Grammy-nominated 2016 album Hero, was among the first to mourn his loss. Captioning a photo of herself with Busbee, she wrote, “This just doesn’t seem fair. I will always love you and the songs and albums I was lucky to make with you, Busbee. Rest well, my sweet friend.”
A friend of the songwriter reportedly told Variety that Busbee was recently diagnosed with Glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, and was receiving treatment. He’s survived by his wife Jessie and their three children, including a baby girl, according to the outlet. EW has reached out to Busbee’s representatives for comment.
Born in Walnut Creek, Calif., Busbee started playing music at an early age. “I’m from California and used to play jazz trombone,” he said in a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone. “I woke up a certain amount of years later, and I have an amazing wife and two beautiful girls, and I get to write songs for a living? I’m like, whose life did I hijack?”
While he found success songwriting and producing for pop stars like 5 Seconds of Summer, Christina Aguilera, Backstreet Boys, Shakira,and Katy Perry, he’s perhaps best known for his work in country music. In addition to Morris, Busbee’s worked extensively with Nashville superstars like Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton and more. Among the songs he had a hand in that were his biggest successes were the hits “Try” by Pink, “The Fighter” by Keith Urban featuring Carrie Underwood, and “H.O.L.Y.” by Florida Georgia Line.
Tributes from across the music industry have flooded social media since news of his death broke.
Singer Carly Pearce took to Instagram to remember her Every Little Thing collaborator with a video.
“I sang ‘every little thing’ tonight through broken tears with thousands of voices and cell phone lights in the air, because I asked them to raise them up high so you could see them shining from heaven,” she said. “What a beautiful sight it was. You gave my music a place in this world. I’ll cherish the 2 albums, songs, talks, laughs & memories we shared over the years. My heart is broken, but the legacy of your talents and your heart will live on in all of the artists and people you touched. I love you, Busbee.”
Songwriter and producer Ross Golan also mourned his late friend on Twitter and mentioned that Busbee had been diagnosed with an illness.
“I love you, Busbee. We texted every day since the diagnosis,” he tweeted. “I didn’t understand why you didn’t respond today. I’m so sad. Thank you for being there for me and Jac when we were hurting. I tried to be there for you but no one’s heart is bigger than yours. Love you, brother.”