Country singer Faron Young--who helped jumpstart the nascent careers of Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and other country performers--died Tuesday in Nashville, one day after shooting himself in the head.

Police say the 64-year-old performer, who had been suffering from emphysema and was recovering from recent prostate surgery, left a suicide note saying he was depressed about his declining health. The note was found next to Young's body Monday when a former band member found the singer--still alive at that point--at his home.

From the 1950s on, Young's string of hits included Willie Nelson's classic, "Hello Walls," along with "Sweet Dreams," "It's Four in the Morning, "Keeping Up with the Joneses" (one of many duets with Margie Singleton) and "Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young." His last major record was 1974's "Some Kind of Woman."

An occasional actor, Young was nicknamed the Singing Sheriff, after starring in Hidden Guns. He also appeared in Daniel Boone. Young founded and later sold the country music fan magazine Music City News.

Perhaps his greatest legacy was his dedication to helping advance the careers of younger performers. He recorded early songs by Nelson, Don Gibson and Bill Anderson. Kristofferson earned rent money working as a laborer for Young while trying to hawk his own songs. Young hired the likes of Roger Miller and Johnny Paycheck to play in his band before they went on to big solo success.

The Shreveport, Louisiana, native got his start on a radio show called Louisiana Hayride. Influenced by Hank Williams, Young scored his first hit in 1953 with "Goin' Steady," which climbed to number two on the country charts.

Young, who divorced nearly 15 years ago, is survived by four children. All were with him when he died early this afternoon. They said Young has "left his family, friends and fans to perform the biggest concert of his career."

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