Nashville songwriter Bryan Wayne Galentine has died. Country Aircheck reports that Galentine died on Thursday (Oct. 22) after battling ALS for more than three years. He was 53 years old.
Galentine carved out a career under the name Bryan Wayne in the Nashville songwriting scene throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s by writing hits including “What If She’s An Angel” by Tommy Shane Steiner, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 2002. He also wrote “Kiss My Ass” from Big & Rich‘s chart-topping 2004 debut album Horse of a Different Color, and scored additional cuts from Chris Cagle, Clay Walker and more artists.
Galentine was diagnosed with ALS in 2017. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the degenerative illness attacks the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and affects more than 16,000 Americans at any given time, according to the ALS Association.
Determined to capture his voice while he could still sing and leave a gift for his wife and two sons, Galentine began recording his debut solo album, While You Wait, just a week after his diagnosis. Working in his friend “Big Kenny” Alphin’s home studio, he spent a year recording the project with several other songwriters and friends, including Big & Rich and songwriters James Otto and Neil Thrasher.
“It’s more than a record,” Galentine told Taste of Country earlier in 2020. “It was almost like a reunion, to revisit all these guys and gals and hug them and say, ‘I appreciate you being part of my life.’ It was all right there within that experience.”
Galentine was already using a wheelchair and a feeding tube at the time he spoke to Taste of Country, and by the time his interview ran in August, he had begun to lose the use of his hands, arms and voice. He became a passionate advocate for ALS awareness after his diagnosis, and despite his difficult circumstances, he maintained a positive outlook.
He created the “Find the Good Stuff” Facebook page to share uplifting content, and he also sold “What’s Your Omelet” T-shirts, concocting the phrase after learning how to make an omelet, one of the many items he crossed off his bucket list after his diagnosis. The phrase was meant to inspire others not to wait to fulfill their dreams.
“It’s frustrating and humbling to accept the things that the disease has taken away…but it is a blessing in a weird way because it taught me to quit going in the motions of life, to find my omelet, to find the good stuff in every day and to try to be a better person with everyone,” Galentine told Taste of Country. “I feel like if I died today, I left a positive mark — and that’s why I say in a weird way, I’m glad I have ALS.”
The Lou Gehrig Day Twitter page saluted Galentine after his death, acknowledging his deep impact on the ALS community.