UPDATE: A service celebrating Jim Foglesong’s life has been scheduled at Vine Street Christian Church, 4601 Harding Pike in Nashville on Tuesday, July 16 at 1 p.m. CT.
• • •
Music industry executive Jim Foglesong died Tuesday (July 9) at a Nashville hospital after a brief illness. He was 90. Foglesong was the music executive who signed Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, George Strait, the Oak Ridge Boys, Lee Greenwood and others to major label deals.
“Today, the music industry lost its greatest diplomat for kindness, tolerance, faith, and sincerity,” says Brooks. “But do not weep for Jim, I have never met a man with a stronger faith, anyone who knew Jim knows where he is now. Instead, weep for those of us who are left here without him…truly, a great, great man.”
“We have lost a giant of a man today,” says Katie Gillon, who worked closely with Foglesong. “Jim was a devoted family man who lived his life with the utmost integrity in every way. He was unfailingly polite, kind and caring to all that he met from the most powerful executives and superstars to the newest eager arrival on Music Row. Jim Foglesong was a true gentleman and what a legacy he leaves us. My heart is broken.”
“Jim Foglesong was truly one of my heroes, and he’ll be sorely missed,” adds singer-songwriter Don Williams. “He was a giant in the industry and the model of a true gentleman. He was incredibly supportive of me as an artist and instrumental in much of the success I’ve enjoyed.”
“My family and I are deeply saddened by Jim Fogelsong’s passing,” says Barbara Mandrell. “Jim’s family and mine have shared so many wonderful times together as dear friends for so many years. He was such an important influence on my career as my record company president for most of the years I spent recording. He was a loving and caring friend who provided thoughtful wisdom and guidance. I have comfort and peace knowing that Jim loved our Lord Jesus Christ and he’s with Him now.”
Foglesong was born in Lundale, W. Va., on July 26, 1922. His career began in New York, where he worked for Columbia, Epic and RCA. He relocated to Nashville to oversee Dot Records in 1970. There he guided the careers of Roy Clark, Don Williams and Donna Fargo among others. In 1973, he became the first executive to be given the title of president of a major record company on Music Row. After ABC purchased Dot Records, ABC/Dot Records added Barbara Mandrell, the Oak Ridge Boys and Freddie Fender to the roster. During Foglesong’s tenure at MCA, the label signed George Strait, Reba McEntire and Lee Greenwood. He oversaw Capitol Nashville from 1984 through 1989 and signed Garth Brooks as well as renewed the career of Tanya Tucker.
Foglesong was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2004. He was inducted into Leadership Music’s Class of 1990; he later received Leadership Music’s Dale Franklin Award in 2009, the same year that Garth Brooks was awarded with the same honor. Foglesong was a long-time member of the Country Music Association and served as chairman of the organization. He was also a recipient of the Nashville Entertainment Association’s Bridge Award.
Before retiring in 2012, Foglesong taught at Trevecca Nazarene University and at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Toni, and four children: James, Jr. “Jimi,” Cindy, Leslie and Rusty, and 16 grandchildren and great-children. Arrangements for a public memorial service are pending and will be announced at a later date.
Career Achievement Timeline
1951 Takes job with Columbia Records, New York City
1951 Studio vocals on Neil Sedaka, Connie Francis, Guy Mitchell, Timi Yuro, Rosemary Clooney recordings
1952-53 Tours with Fred Waring’s Festival of Song
1953 Begins production work with Gentlemen, Be Seated, a various-artists concept album which logged six weeks on Billboard’s Top 10
1953-70 Active as a producer for artists such as Al Hirt, Ed Ames, Julie Andrews, Bobby Vinton, Miriam Makeba and Robert Goulet
1955 Produces Roy Hamilton’s Top 10 “You Can Have Her”
1964 Takes job with Steve Sholes at RCA Victor, New York City
1970 Moves to Nashville to work with Dot Records
1972 Signs Donna Fargo; she earns CMA and Grammy honors
1973 Produces first #1 record in career of Roy Clark
1973 Named President of Dot Records
1974 Dot purchased by ACB, becomes ABC-Dot, later ABC
1974-79 Significant signings include Barbara Mandrell, Freddy Fender, the Oak Ridge Boys, Don Williams, John Conlee
1977 Produces Country Comes to Carnegie Hall featuring Roy Clark, Hank Thompson, Freddy Fender, Don Williams
1979 MCA buys ABC, merges rosters bringing Merle Haggard, Bill Monroe, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn to combined label
1979-84 Signs George Strait, Reba McEntire, Ed Bruce, Terri Gibbs, Lee Greenwood
1984-89 Heads Capitol Nashville, inking Garth Brooks, Tanya Tucker, Sawyer Brown, Suzy Bogguss, Marie Osmond, T. Graham Brown, New Grass Revival
1993 Awarded Nashville Entertainment Association’s Master Award
1993 Receives CMA’s Founding President’s Award
1998 Presented Bridge Award by Leadership Music
2004 Inducted into Country Music Hall of Fame
2007 Awarded honorary Doctor of Music degree by University of Charleston (WVa)
2009 Awarded Distinguished Professor status by Trevecca Nazarene University, only third such honor in school history
2009 Awarded Leadership Music’s Dale Franklin Award along with Garth Brooks and Allen Reynolds
- CMA Honors Robert Deaton With Chairman’s Award - December 4, 2020
- Nashville Symphony, Nashville Musicians Association Reach Agreement - December 4, 2020
- Zach Williams’ “Chain Breaker” Is Most-Added On ‘MusicRow’ CountryBreakout Radio Chart - December 4, 2020