Veteran Talent Agent Steve Thurman Passes

Country industry veteran Steve Thurman died at age 62 on Friday, June 8.

He is perhaps best-known as an early champion of Diamond Rio, Joe Diffie and Tim McGraw. Thurman was also a mainstay of the NATD (Nashville Association of Talent Directors).

While a student at MTSU in the 1970s, he became chairman of the school’s concert committee. He and roommate Charles Dorris also worked Municipal Auditorium concerts for promoters Sound Seventy and Varnell Enterprises. After graduation, Thurman worked for the country agency Top Billing.

According to Dorris, he next began managing The Tennessee River Boys. He re-named them Diamond Rio and reportedly arranged their Arista Records contract. He also brought the band to Charles Dorris & Associates.

He and agent Dick Beacham signed the then-unknown Joe Diffie and Tim McGraw, among others.

In recent years, Thurman became one of the key organizers of the NATD, which stages an annual awards banquet in Nashville, a CMA Fest picnic for booking and promotion executives, and a speaker series, among other events.

Stephen Odell Thurman died of respiratory issues, pneumonia and a blood infection. He is survived by his mother, Norene Harris Thurman, by brothers Stand and Brian and by nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles.

Funeral services were held on Tuesday, June 12 at 1 p.m. at Coulter Garrison Funeral Home in Dayton, TN, followed by his burial in Spence Cemetery in Dayton.


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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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