Publisher/Producer John E. Denny Dies

Longtime Music Row business figure John E. Denny died Tuesday (July 21) at age 79. He had been battling diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease for years.

Born John Everett Denny, he was the son of Country Music Hall of Fame member Jim Denny (1911-1963).

Opry manager Jim Denny founded Cedarwood Music with Webb Pierce in 1953. Along with Acuff-Rose and Tree, this was one of the cornerstones of the Nashville song publishing business.

When Jim Denny died, sons Bill Denny and John Denny assumed control of Cedarwood. John was Cedarwood’s vice president. The company was sold to Mel Tillis in 1983.

John Denny wrote several songs for the Cedarwood catalog, including the novelty numbers “All I Want for Christmas Is a Go-Go Girl,” “Jesus Took the Outlaw Out of Me” and “What’s Tootsie Gonna Do When They Tear the Ryman Down.”

One of the firm’s spin-offs was the Dollie Records label. John Denny produced Dollie singles for Carl Perkins, including “Country Boy’s Dream” and “Shine, Shine, Shine” which charted in 1966-67. He also produced Diana Duke and others for Dollie. The label’s acts included Johnny Wiggins, Marti Brown, Gene Wyatt and Johnnie Bailes.

In 1965, he formed his own Denny Music Group. The publishing arm, John E. Denny Music registered 422 titles with BMI. Most of its songs were recorded by independent country artists.

He had his own recording studio, Denny’s Den.

He also founded JED Records (named for his initials). The label released singles by Kent Westbury, Bobby Sykes, Scotty Stoneman, Rusty Adams, Chris Gantry, Jimmy Smart, Max D. Barnes, Ruthie Steele, Audie Ashworth and more before folding around 1980.

John E. Denny received the Lifetime Achievement award from R.O.P.E. (Reunion of Professional Entertainers) in 2004. He was one of the organization’s founders.

He is survived by his wife Pandora, son James Rae Denny II, sister Linda Gayle, brother J. William, a grandson and a granddaughter.

There will be a private family gravesite service on Thursday (July 30) at Mount Olivet Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made in John’s name to the Country Music Hall of Fame or to the charity of your choice.

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Category: Artist, Featured, Obituary

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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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