LifeNotes: Music Publisher, Producer Bob Tubert Dies At 90

Glen Sutton, Lynn Anderson, Mr. & Mrs. Bob Tubert

PIctured (L-R): Glenn Sutton, Lynn Anderson, Mr. & Mrs. Bob Tubert. Photo: BMI Archive

The Nashville music business has lost Bob Tubert, a man who made his mark in many areas of the industry. Tubert died at age 90 on April 10, according to the Hendersonville Funeral Home.

He was a record producer, a TV scriptwriter, a hit songwriter, an author, a music publisher and a talent spotter. Tubert won the 1978 CMA Founding President’s Award for his years of service to the organization.

In addition, he was a founding member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), and helped to establish Belmont University’s music business program.

Born in 1925, Robert F. Tubert was raised in Massachusetts in the 1930s , knowing nothing of Nashville or country music. He attended Arizona State University in Flagstaff on a basketball scholarship. This is where he first heard country records.

He completed his education in Missouri. This turned out to be advantageous, because after graduation, he was hired by the Ozark Jubilee organization in Springfield.

Pictured: Joy Byers, Bob Tubert. Photo: BMI Archives

Pictured: Joy Byers, Bob Tubert. Photo: BMI Archive

In 1955, The Ozark Jubilee was launched as one of America’s first network country TV series. Tubert became its scriptwriter and sometime director. Airing on ABC, the show was variously titled Ozark Jubilee (1955-57), Country Music Jubilee (1957-58), Jubilee USA (1958-60) and Five Star Jubilee (1961).

A parallel network program in 1956 was Junior Jubilee. In addition, there was a nationally-distributed radio show, which Tubert also worked on.

Ozark Jubilee regulars included host Red Foley, plus Porter Wagoner, Brenda Lee, Jean Shepard, Sonny James, The Browns, Webb Pierce, Eddy Arnold and Jim Reeves, all of whom later became members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Tubert promoted the idea that Springfield, Missouri, the home of the shows, could become the headquarters of country music. He was embittered that Jubilee executives did not share his vision.

Pictured: Freddie North, Ed Cramer and Bob Tubert at the BMI Awards in 1972. Photo: BMI Archive

Pictured: Freddie North, Ed Cramer and Bob Tubert at the BMI Awards in 1972. Photo: BMI Archive

When the shows ended, Bob Tubert migrated to the city that did become country music’s headquarters, Nashville. Inspired by this community, he began writing songs.

His first success was “When You Loved Me,” a No. 8 adult-contemporary hit for Brenda Lee in 1964. The following year, he succeeded on the country charts by co-writing the No. 1 Sonny James hit “You’re the Only World I Know.” Tubert also co-wrote the big 1965 Sonny James hit, “I’ll Keep Holding On.”

In 1967, Tubert’s “Gardenias in Her Hair” was a Top 10 hit for Marty Robbins, and “Here Comes Heaven” did the same for Eddy Arnold in 1968. He also wrote songs that were recorded by Stonewall Jackson, Dolly Parton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Kitty Wells, Dave Dudley, Faron Young, Dottie West, Connie Smith, Ray Stevens, Cal Smith, Jim Ed Brown, Marie Osmond, Roy Clark , Grandpa Jones, Billy Walker, David Houston and more in the 1960s and 1970s.

But Tubert never considered himself to be a strictly “country” creator. He wrote songs for Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs (“Ring Dang Doo”). The Letterman (“Our Winter Love”), Lou Rawls (“My Ancestors”), Bobby Vinton (“Satin Pillow”), Chuck Jackson & Maxine Brown (“Please Don’t Hurt Me”), Steve Alaimo, Taj Mahal, Sandy Posey, Jimmy Cliff, Perry Como, Anita Bryant, Jackie Wilson, Ketty Lester, Ann-Margret and other pop and R&B stars.

Pictured: Demetriss Tapp, Bob Tubert at the BMI R&B Awards in 1972. Photo: BMI Archive

Pictured: Demetriss Tapp, Bob Tubert at the BMI R&B Awards in 1972. Photo: BMI Archive

Tubert also became a Music Row publishing executive. In the 1960s, he ran Earl Barton Music, Regent Music and Vintage Music. Between 1970 and 1983, he was the professional manager for Excellorec. Headquartered at Woodland Sound in East Nashville, this company controlled the copyrights of the blues and gospel music created for such imprints as Excello, Nashboro and Ernie’s Record Mart.

At some point, Tubert was also a newsman for United Press International (UPI). He wrote liner notes for albums by Jerry Reed, Chet Atkins, The Anita Kerr Singers, Charlie Rich and others. He was a founding member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), and helped to establish Belmont University’s music business program.

As a record producer, he guided the sounds of his discovery Lana Chapel, as well as Davey Buhl, Russ Russell and Dale Turner. He also wrote and produced major-label records for his pop-singer wife, Demetriss Tapp.

In the 1980s, he discovered Shelby Lynne. He got her on TNN’s Nashville Now and sent her tapes to producer Billy Sherrill, who signed her to Epic Records. She later won a Grammy Award.

Pictured: Neil Anderson, Bob Tubert, Jack Grady in 1968. Photo: BMI Archives

Pictured: Neil Anderson, Bob Tubert, Jack Grady in 1968. Photo: BMI Archive

In later years, Tubert returned to show scripting and television work. He wrote benefit shows for NARAS and the CMA and produced cable-TV specials about the music of Merle Haggard, Porter Wagoner and others. He also wrote material for the annual CMA Awards telecasts.

In 2012, he published his autobiography, Echoes and Reflections: My Life With the Stars. The book was an expose of the back stabbing, dishonesty, and shady deals that Tubert perceived in the music business. In the book, he also gave positive credit where credit was due.

He is survived by his wife, Demetriss Tapp Tubert, children Devin and Shara and three grandchildren.

Visitation will be from noon to 1 p.m. on April 23 with a celebration of life to follow. Hendersonville Funeral Home is at 353 E. Main Street in Hendersonville.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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