Former RCA Exec Dave Wheeler Passes

Dave Wheeler with Dolly Parton. Photo: Dave Wheeler

Longtime RCA Records sales executive Dave Wheeler died Saturday, Aug. 19, at age 83.

He helped shape the careers of many artists including Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Alabama, Vince Gill, Ronnie Milsap, Martina McBride and Waylon Jennings. Known as a “Mr. Nice Guy,” he was one of the most widely loved executives in the annals of Music Row.

He initially joined RCA as a regional sales representative in West Virginia. He rose through the ranks in Cincinnati and Detroit before arriving in Music City.

By the mid-1980s, he was the label’s Director of Marketing in Nashville, overseeing the entire sales and marketing department. He eventually became a vice president at the company and was placed in charge of all of RCA Nashville’s promotion, artist development, product management and media as well as sales and marketing.

He remained with the record label for 35 years, his entire professional life.

Dave Wheeler graduated from Leadership Music in 1992. His family is distinctive in that it had three alumni of the prestigious program. Son Jimmy Wheeler of the Provident Label Group was a member of the 2007 class. Daughter Jill Wheeler of Red Mountain Entertainment was in the class of 2016.

Dave Wheeler retired from the music industry in 1992. He passed away at his home in Spring Hill, TN.

He is survived by his wife Kay, daughters Jill (of Birmingham, AL) and Beth (of Atlanta, GA) and by son Jimmy of Franklin, also by stepchildren, grandchildren and a great-grandson.

A celebration of life will be held at the Brentwood Country Club on Sunday, Sept. 24 from 5 p.m.-8 p.m.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be directed to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.


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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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