Oh Boy Records Co-Founder, Dan Einstein, Passes Away At 61

Dan Einstein. Photo: Courtesy of Holly Gleason

Dan Einstein, a Grammy-winning producer and co-founder of Oh Boy Records, passed away on Saturday, Jan. 15 after a battle with a prolonged illness. He was 61.

Einstein co-founded Oh Boy Records with friends John Prine and Al Bunetta in 1981. He also aided its artist-owner counterpart, Steve Goodman’s Red Pajamas Records.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Einstein moved to LA in 1978 with his family, where he attended UCLA. He began booking acts at venues and soon went to work with Al Bunetta Management, which moved him to Nashville in the early ’90s.

After Goodman’s death in 1984, Einstein executive-produced the album A Tribute to Steve Goodman, which won the first-ever Contemporary Folk Grammy in 1986. Some of his other production credits include Prine’s 1988 Live album, Goodman’s Unfinished Business, and a Live From The Mountain Stage series.

Einstein, a member of Leadership Music’s Class of 1996, left the music business in 2004 to open Sweet 16th Bakery in East Nashville with his wife Ellen. The beloved neighborhood bakery became a staple shop for custom cakes, award-winning breakfast sandwiches, and more.

He is survived by his wife, Ellen Einstein. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Einstein’s name to Alive Hospice or to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to support the research of Dr. Michael Savona.

Those wishing to celebrate Einstein can RSVP here for a virtual community service, set for Wednesday evening (Jan. 19) at 6:30 p.m. CT. The family hopes to hold a public celebration of Einstein’s life this spring.

Former Grand Ole Opry Drummer Jerry Ray Johnston Passes

Jerry Ray Johnston

Jerry Ray Johnston, a former staff drummer for the Grand Ole Opry, passed away on Jan. 9 in Franklin, Tennessee from complications with COVID pneumonia. He was 65.

Jerry is the father of The Cadillac Three frontman Jaren Johnston, and the father in law to ASCAP’s Evyn Mustoe Johnston.

Jerry Ray Johnston was born in Monroe, Louisiana and moved to Nashville at 24 to pursue a career in music as a drummer. Over the span of 40 years, he played with numerous country stars, had a recording contract with Warner Bros. with the group Bandana, and eventually became the staff drummer at the Grand Ole Opry, which was his dream when he left Louisiana.

He was known for encouraging many other musicians to move to Nashville, then guiding them and introducing them to the network they needed to get gigs. Jerry also donated time to play drums at his church whenever needed.

Jerry Ray Johnston is survived by his wife of 45 years, Karen Roark Johnston; children, Jaren Ray Johnston (Evyn) and Texa Rae Johnston; one grandson, Jude Daniel Johnston; brothers, Jody Lane Johnston (Judy), Randy McKnight (Diane) and Jimmy Johnston (Deborah); and special uncles Billy Johnston (Irene) and Clifford Johnston (Novis). Also mourning Jerry are four brothers-in-law, sister-in-law and their spouses; along with numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Jimmy Johnston and Dorothy Johnston, and his grandparents, Clarence and Mae Johnston, who raised him from a small child.

Private services were held in West Monroe, Louisiana with Jerry’s brother-in-law officiating. A  memorial service will be held in Tennessee in a few weeks.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to MusiCares, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Wounded Warriors Project, or the charity of your choice.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at kilpatrickfuneralhomes.com.

Music Industry Veteran Jerry Crutchfield Passes

Jerry Crutchfield

Seven-decade Music Row veteran Jerry Crutchfield died on Jan. 11 at age 87.

Crutchfield had a multi-faceted career as a record producer, songwriter, label executive, vocalist and music publisher. He produced major hit country records for Tanya Tucker, Lee Greenwood, Tracy Byrd and many more. His gospel productions were nominated for Dove Awards. He ran MCA Publishing (now Universal) for 25 years. He headed Capitol Records’ Nashville office. He wrote several hit songs and sang backup for many Music City stars.

Born in Paducah, Kentucky in 1934, the future music executive cited his father’s big-band records as an early influence. In high school, he sang in teen doo-wop groups as well as gospel quartets. At age 18, he joined the Melody Masters gospel group in Princeton, Indiana. While attending Murray State College, he began making inroads in Nashville. He also worked as a local-radio disc jockey.

He and his brother Jan Crutchfield (1938-2012) were signed to RCA Records as members of the pop group The Country Gentlemen in 1956. The name led to confusion that they were a country act, so the billing was changed to The Escorts. Both brothers next embarked on careers as songwriters. Brother Jan’s catalog includes such country classics as “Statue of a Fool,” “Tear Time” and “It Turns Me Inside Out.”

Jerry Crutchfield’s songs were recorded by such country stars as George Jones, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams Jr., Eddy Arnold, Bobby Bare, Roy Rogers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, Tammy Wynette, Connie Smith and Hank Thompson. His hits included Bobby Bare’s “Find Out What’s Happening,” Wanda Jackson’s “Fancy Satin Pillows,” Dottie West’s “Every Word I Write” and Charley Pride’s “Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger.”

He also placed songs with such R&B stars as Irma Thomas, Slim Harpo, Dee Dee Warwick and Arthur Alexander. Pop stars Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee (“My Whole World Is Falling Down”) and Nick Lowe recorded Jerry Crutchfield’s tunes, too.

Both Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley hired him as a backup vocalist. During his early years on Music Row, Crutchfield sang on records by Hank Snow, Webb Pierce, Roger Miller, Jerry Reed, Bill Anderson, Hawkshaw Hawkins and more.

In 1962, he was hired to head the publishing division of Decca/MCA. Among the writers he nurtured there were Don Schlitz, Dave Loggins, Russell Smith, Gary Burr, Rob Crosby and Mark Nesler. Crutchfield took a break from MCA to serve as the head of Capitol Records in Nashville for four years in the 1980s, then returned to music publishing.

As a record producer, his big successes included Barbara Fairchild (“The Teddy Bear Song,” 1973), Dave Loggins (“Please Come to Boston,” 1974), Lee Greenwood (“God Bless the U.S.A.,” 1984), Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (“Sure Feels Like Love,” 1982), Tracy Byrd (“The Keeper of the Stars,” 1995) and Tanya Tucker (more than 20 top-10 hits from 1986-94). Crutchfield has also produced Glen Campbell, Jody Miller, Chris LeDoux, Anne Murray, Ringo Starr, Sammy Kershaw, Shenandoah, Suzy Bogguss, Dan Seals, Cleve Francis, Brenda Lee, Delbert McClinton, Jason Ringenberg, Barbara Mandrell and Buck Owens, among others.

He also became prominent as a gospel producer. Crutchfield worked with The Hemphills, Doug Oldham, Cynthia Clawson and Terry Bradshaw in that genre.

In the 1990s, he began managing his own publishing companies, Crutchfield Music and Glitterfish Music. Tim McGraw, George Strait and Martina McBride are among the artists who recorded songs from these firms’ catalogs. Crutchfield also worked as a freelance producer for the next 20+ years.

This multi-talented Music Row figure produced Jimmy Dean’s nationally syndicated TV series in 1973-75. He wrote a series of children’s books, The Adventures of Dr. Raccoon. Crutchfield has served on the boards of the Country Music Association, the Gospel Music Association and the Nashville chapter of The Recording Academy. He was also a past national trustee of the Academy. There is a scholarship in his name at Murray State and an exhibit of his career memorabilia.

Jerry Crutchfield is survived by his wife of 62 years, Patsy, son Martin, daughter Christy Fields (husband James Fields), and three grandchildren, Adison, Chase, and Luke Fields.

A musical celebration of life will be announced and held at a later date.

Anyone wishing to make a memorial contribution in Jerry’s name may do so by donating via the American Federation of Musicians to either the Emergency Relief Fund or the Crisis Assistance Fund.

Songwriting Titan Dallas Frazier Dies

Dallas Frazier wins the 1982 Songwriter of the Year award from the readers of Music City News. Photo: Courtesy Robert K. Oermann

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Dallas Frazier has passed away at age 82.

Regarded as one of the greatest country songwriters in history, Frazier’s classics include “There Goes My Everything,” “Beneath Still Waters,” “Elvira,” “Fourteen Carat Mind” and “All I Have to Offer You Is Me.” His songs helped make stars of Connie Smith and Charley Pride. More than a dozen members of the Country Music Hall of Fame recorded Frazier’s works. He was also a much admired recording artist.

He was born in Spiro, Oklahoma in 1939, but was raised in Bakersfield, California. Frazier recalled his early years as being characterized by labor camps and cotton fields. The boy was highly musical, teaching himself to play guitar, piano and other instruments. He was writing songs by age 12. That is when he was discovered by Ferlin Husky at a singing contest.

Frazier joined Husky’s road show as a juvenile attraction. This led to a 1954 recording contract with Husky’s label, Capitol Records. The youngster became a 1954-58 regular on the Los Angeles TV show Hometown Jamboree, where he was frequently paired with fellow teen performer Molly Bee. Frazier also worked regularly on Cousin Herb Henderson’s Trading Post TV series in Bakersfield. These gigs put the teenager in the company of Tommy Collins, Jean Shepard, Buck Owens, Wynn Stewart and the rest of the country entertainers who would form the bedrock of Bakersfield’s country community.

Dallas Frazier met and married his wife Sharon in 1958. They remained together throughout his subsequent triumphs and trials.

His youthful Capitol singles didn’t take off, but his songwriting did. Frazier’s pop novelty ditty “Alley Oop” became a No. 1 hit for The Hollywood Argyles in 1960. The group was a recording-studio concoction of Gary S. Paxton, Buddy Mize, Scotty Turner and others. Frazier briefly performed as a member of the touring Hollywood Argyles. “Alley Oop” was so popular that it was released in a competing version by Dante & The Evergreens which became a top-20 pop hit. An R&B outfit called The Dyna-Sores also charted with the tune in 1960.

Dallas Frazier. Photo: Courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Dallas and Sharon Frazier moved to Nashville in 1963. Husky again took the songwriter under his wing, signing him to his publishing company and recording “Timber I’m Falling” as Frazier’s first country hit in 1964.

The songwriter next signed with Acclaim Music, Jim Reeves’ song-publishing company. It was run by the singer’s former Blue Boys band member Ray Baker, who took Frazier’s “Mohair Sam” to Charlie Rich in 1965.

It became a pop hit. Frazier followed Baker to the latter’s Blue Crest Music, and this is where his long run of country songwriting successes ensued.

As a singer, Dallas Frazier re-signed with Capitol Records. He recorded two excellent, R&B flavored albums for the label, Elvira (1966) and Tell It Like It Is (1967). The title tune of the former appeared briefly on the pop charts in 1966, as did “Just a Little Bit of You.” The Capitol singles “Everybody Oughta Sing a Song,” “The Sunshine of My World” and “I Hope I Like Mexico Blues” were mid-sized country chart entries in 1968. Frazier also co-wrote and recorded 1969’s “The Conspiracy of Homer Jones” as a parody of “Ode to Billie Jo” and “Harper Valley P.T.A.”

Meanwhile, his songs scored big on the country charts for others. “Baby Ain’t That Fine” became a 1966 hit duet for Gene Pitney & Melba Montgomery. Jack Greene recorded Frazier’s “There Goes My Everything” in 1966. It remained at No. 1 for seven weeks and was named the CMA Song of the Year. The song received a second boost in popularity when Elvis Presley hit with it again five years later.

Also in 1966, Connie Smith hit with Frazier’s “Ain’t Had No Lovin’” and George Jones scored with “I’m a People.” Both artists showed their appreciation and admiration by recording entire albums of Dallas Frazier songs, Jones in 1968 and Smith in 1972.

George Jones returned to the songwriter’s catalog with 1967’s “If My Heart Had Windows, which Frazier wrote for his wife Sharon, plus “I Can’t Get There From Here” (1967), “Say It’s Not You” (1968), “Beneath Still Waters” (1968) and “Tell Me My Lying Eyes Are Wrong” (1970). Connie Smith encored with Frazier’s “Run Away Little Tears” (1968), “Where Is My Castle” (1971), “I’m Sorry If My Love Got in Your Way” (1971), “Just for What I Am” (1972), “If It Ain’t Love (Let’s Leave It Alone)” (1972), “Dream Painter” (1973) and “Ain’t Love a Good Thing” (1973). Smith has recorded 68 Dallas Frazier songs, more than anyone

Frazier’s songs also aided the ascent of Charley Pride. “All I Have to Offer You Is Me” (1969), “I’m So Afraid of Losing You Again” (1969), “I Can’t Believe That You’ve Stopped Loving Me” (1970) and “Then Who Am I” (1974) all became No. 1 hits for the singer.

Jack Greene resumed recording Frazier songs with “Back in the Arms of Love” (1969),“Until My Dreams Come True” (1969) and “Lord Is That Me” (1970). Brenda Lee’s transition from pop stardom to country hit maker was aided by Frazier’s “Johnny One Time” (1969) and “If This Is Our Last Time” (1971).

The songwriter’s string of country successes also continued with Charlie Louvin’s “Will You Visit Me on Sundays” (1968), Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Touching Home” (1971), Ferlin Husky’s “White Fences and Evergreen Trees” (1968), Elvis Presley’s “Where Did They Go Lord” (1971), Nat Stuckey’s “She Wakes Me With a Kiss Every Morning” (1971), Johnny Russell’s “The Baptism of Jesse Taylor” (1974), Roy Head’s “The Door I Used to Close” (1976), Moe Bandy’s “Does Anyone Make Love at Home Anymore” (1976), Tanya Tucker’s “What’s Your Mama’s Name” (1973) and Stoney Edwards’ “Hank and Lefty Raised My Country Soul” (1974). He also scored a pop success as the writer of O.C. Smith’s 1968 hit “The Son of Hickory Hollow’s Tramp.”

Dallas Frazier returned to record making with a pair of country albums for RCA, 1970’s Singing My Songs and 1971’s My Baby Packed Up My Mind and Left Me. Both were co-produced by Chet Atkins. In 1969-72, Dallas Frazier made the country charts with such RCA singles as “California Cotton Fields,” “The Birthmark Henry Thompson Talks About,” “Big Mable Murphy” and “North Carolina.”

It is a measure of how gifted and prolific he was that Dallas Frazier was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1976 when he was only 36 years old.

In the late 1970s, Johnny Russell revived “The Son of Hickory Hollow’s Tramp” and Rodney Crowell brought back “Elvira.” These revivals of Dallas Frazier classics continued in the 1980s with Emmylou Harris singing “Beneath Still Waters” (1980), The Whites doing a harmony treatment of “If It Ain’t Love (Let’s Leave It Alone)” (1985) and Patty Loveless scoring a hit with “If My Heart Had Windows” (1988).

Biggest of all was The Oak Ridge Boys revival of “Elvira” in 1981. It crossed over to the pop charts, earned a Platinum Record, won a Grammy Award, was the CMA Single of the Year and became the group’s signature song. Also in 1981, Gene Watson hit No. 1 on the country hit parade with Dallas Frazier’s “Fourteen Carat Mind.”

Among the hundreds who recorded his songs were Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Dottie West, Bobby Bare, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams Jr., Vince Gill, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, Don Gibson, Bill Anderson, Conway Twitty, Kitty Wells, Glen Campbell, Peggy Lee, Englebert Humperdinck, Tom Jones, Keith Richards, Kenny Rogers, Ray Price, Patti Page, Anne Murray, Hank Snow, Webb Pierce, Eddy Arnold, Percy Sledge, Nick Lowe, Manfred Mann, Quincy Jones, Bobby Rydell, Mickey Gilley, The Statler Brothers, Slim Harpo, The Beach Boys and Sonny James.

“There Goes My Everything,” “All I Have to Offer You Is Me” and “Elvira” all earned Frazier Grammy nominations for Country Song of the Year.

Noted for his gentle nature and generosity, Frazier was notable as the mentor of fellow Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee A.L. “Doodle” Owens. His other collaborators included fellow Hall of Famers Whitey Shafer and Earl “Peanut” Montgomery.

Dallas Frazier became a heavy drinker. In the 1980s, he resolved to get his life back on track. He enrolled in Emmanuel Bible College in 1985-89. He quit the music business in 1988 to become a non-denominational minister, channeling his creative energies to write weekly sermons instead of songs.

Throughout the 1990s, he declined almost all overtures to rejoin the Nashville music community. One exception was when he agreed to take part in the Recording Academy’s 1999 documentary Nashville Songwriter, which inaugurated the organization’s oral history program.

About five years later, he began feeling the urge to write again. Sharon Frazier persuaded her husband to appear at a Songwriter Session at the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. This inspired the museum to launch its “Poets & Prophets” series the following spring.

Frazier stepped down at his church and began writing songs again in 2007. He returned to the Hall of Fame to take part in its multi-media “Poets & Prophets” series in 2010. Two years later, he marketed a new album, Dallas Frazier: Writing and Singing Again.

Director Scott McDaniel created Elvira: The True Story of Dallas Frazier, and the documentary debuted at the Franklin Theater in 2020. The movie continues to screen at film festivals.

The family announced Dallas Frazier’s death on Facebook on Friday, Jan. 14. He passed following several months of declining health. Since last August, he had suffered two strokes.

Frazier is survived by his wife of 63 years, Sharon Carpani Frazier; daughters, Robin Proetta, Melody Morris and Alison Thompson; four grandchildren; one great-grandson; and a sister, Judy Shults.

The funeral service will be 11:00 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 20 at the chapel of Alexander Funeral Home & Cremation Center, 584 Nashville Pike, Gallatin, TN. Visitation will be Wednesday, Jan. 19 from 4:00-8:00 p.m. and Thursday, Jan. 20 from 10:00 a.m. until time of service. Online condolences may be submitted at alexandergallatin.com. Frazier requested that donations be made to the Nashville Rescue Mission in lieu of flowers.

“Dean Of Country Broadcasters” Ralph Emery Passes

Ralph Emery. Photo: Courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Country Music Hall of Fame member Ralph Emery died on Saturday, Jan. 15 at age 88.

He was country music’s leading broadcaster for more than 50 years, first on radio and then as the genre’s ambassador on national cable television. Emery was also a recording artist, a presence in syndicated TV and the author of several books. His relaxed, avuncular style made country stars comfortable as they experienced their first mass-media exposure.

Walter Ralph Emery was born in McEwen, TN in 1933. He was a rather lonely and sad youngster. His alcoholic father and mentally unstable mother led to him being partly raIsed by his farmer grandparents. The introverted boy found solace in listening to the radio and became intrigued with the idea of making it his profession.

Ralph Emery. Photo: Mercury Records

Following a move to Nashville in 1940, he graduated from East High and enrolled in the Tennessee School of Broadcasting. Emery’s teacher was the legendary R&B deejay John Richbourg, who was famed on WLAC as “John R.” Emery was taught proper diction, learned to read the news, modulated his voice and lost his rural accent. John R recommended him for a 1951 job in Paris, TN on WTPR. Emery then returned to Nashville for a stint at WNAH, then one at nearby Franklin’s WAGG. That station is where he learned to interview country celebrities such as Del Wood and Webb Pierce.

Next, he landed a job back home in Nashville at WSIX in late 1953. He did sports announcing for live wrestling broadcasts and emceed a pop-music show by Pat Boone. This led to an offer from WLCS in Baton Rouge, LA in 1956. He only lasted a month there before returning to the Nashville airways on WMAK, a pop-music broadcaster. He was fired by that station. Luckily, he landed a job at WSM in 1957, which paved the way to his national fame.

The station put him on the air on its all-night shift at $90 a week. During the next 15 years, Emery transformed the overnight show. He invited artists to visit the program and encouraged them to bring guitars or to sing playing the station’s piano. Marty Robbins, Patsy Cline, Tex Ritter, Jim Reeves, Loretta Lynn and many other top stars stopped by to chat because of his open-door policy. His easy-going interview style made him an audience favorite, and WSM’s clear-channel, 50,000-watt power meant that the night owl was heard in 38 states nightly. By the time he signed off in 1972, the all-night show was known as “Opry Star Spotlight.”

He was also an announcer on the station’s iconic Grand Ole Opry in 1961-64. Emery’s second wife was Opry star Skeeter Davis, to whom he was married in 1960-64.

His popularity as a broadcaster led to an offer to record for Liberty Records. Emery made an “answer record” to Faron Young’s “Hello Walls” (written by Willie Nelson), and his “Hello Fool” became a top-10 hit in 1961. He also recorded for Mercury, ABC-Paramount, Elektra and other labels, but never made the charts again.

He next made the move to television. Between 1963 and 1991, Emery hosted WSMV-TV’s local, early-morning broadcast. It was named The Ralph Emery Show in 1972. The weekday program featured one of live local television’s only surviving studio bands and was notable for giving breaks to up-and-coming artists such as The Judds, Randy Travis and Lorrie Morgan. For a time in the 1970s and 1980s, it was the highest-rated local morning television show in the U.S.

He also had an afternoon program, Sixteenth Avenue, in 1966-69. He was featured in the movies Country Music on Broadway (1965), Nashville Rebel (1966), Girl From Tobacco Road (1966) and The Road to Nashville (1967).

The pace was grueling. Daily all-night radio, early-morning TV, syndicated-show tapings and announcing work resulted in an addiction to amphetamines. Emery overcame this as his national profile rose.

He launched a syndicated radio show titled “Take Five for Country Music” then “Goody’s Presents Ralph Emery.” This was carried by 425+ stations in 1986-91. Radio syndication led to syndicated television. He hosted Pop Goes the Country in TV syndication in 1973-79. In 1976, he was the announcer for Dolly Parton’s syndicated seres.

When cable television emerged in the early 1980s, Ralph Emery jumped on board. His first show was Nashville Alive, which aired on Ted Turner’s TBS channel in 1981-83. Beginning in 1983, Emery hosted Nashville Now on TNN. It brought him the biggest national audience of his long career. As the flagship show of the network, it attracted a who’s-who of country stardom to Emery’s TV stage and desk. In 1986, he was voted America’s Favorite Cable TV Personality by the readers of Cable Guide magazine.

Photos of Ralph Emery vary widely, depending on the decade. Always insecure about his looks, Emery underwent cosmetic jaw/dental procedures, face lifts and hair transplants. He discussed these candidly in his best-seller 1991 autobiography, as well as several of his private problems.

Fame and popularity from his nightly Nashville Now shows led him to reactivate his recording career in 1989. Emery signed with RCA and issued Songs for Children and Christmas With Ralph & Red. These were in conjunction with Steve Hall’s puppet Shotgun Red, who’d become a regular on Nashville Now.

Ralph Emery was elected to the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame in 1989. The following year, Barbara Mandrell organized an all-star salute to Emery featuring 70 top country stars.

In 1991, he published Memories: The Autobiography of Ralph Emery. The book spent 25 weeks on the New York Times “Bestseller” list. He followed it with More Memories (1993), The View From Nashville (1998) and 50 Years Down a Country Road (2000). The books were cowritten, the first two with Tom Carter and the last two with Patsi Bale Cox.

Emery left Nashville Now in 1993, but continued to host specials on TNN. He returned full time to cable TV with Ralph Emery Live on RFD-TV in 2007. By the time that show ended in 2015, it was titled Ralph Emery’s Memories.

Known as, “The Dean of Country Music Broadcasters,” Ralph Emery was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007. He became a member of the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2010.

Ralph Emery is survived by his wife Joy Emery; sons, Steve, Matthew and Ralph Jr.; five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Manager, Agent & Promoter Randy Jackson Passes

Pictured (L-R): Randy Jackson & Glen Campbell. Photo: Courtesy of Absolute Publicity

Longtime Nashville & Texas music manager, agent and promoter Randy Jackson passed away on Dec. 21 in Alpine, Texas. He was 75.

Jackson began his career as a talent agent for the Hubert Long Agency and later worked with Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty until becoming the road manager for Johnny Rodriguez.

Pictured (L-R): Earl Campbell, Randy Jackson, and Charley Pride. Photo: Courtesy of Matt Stevens

He went on to work as an agent for Charley Pride at the Chardon Agency in Dallas. While there, Jackson discovered new talents including Neal McCoy and Janie Fricke. Jackson went on to manage Fricke and they eventually married.

He later married Sherry Jackson, and returned to his college alma mater, Sul Ross University in Alpine, where he and Sherry tutored the football athletes while supporting the Lobos football team.

Throughout his career, Jackson produced and promoted concerts throughout Florida and Texas. Jackson’s final concert was only three days before he passed as Asleep at the Wheel played a sold out show at the Cailloux Theater in Kerrville, Texas.

Memorial arrangements have not been shared at this time.

Big Daddy Weave’s Jay Weaver Passes Away Due To COVID-19 Complications

Jay Weaver. Photo: Matt Le

Jay Weaver, bass player and vocalist for the Curb Records Christian band Big Daddy Weave, has died from complications due to COVID-19. He was 42.

Jay was hospitalized in late December due to complications from COVID, according to an Instagram post from Big Daddy Weave. However, his health issues first arose in 2016 when both of his feet were amputated in an effort to save his life from an infection. In August 2020, he also shared that he was undergoing dialysis to help with kidney function.

“Our Big Daddy Weave brother Jay Weaver went to be with the Lord on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 2, after a battle with COVID-19,” the band shares. “We are devastated by this loss and are trusting the Lord to guide us through this difficult time. All of your thoughts, prayers, and support have been and continue to be deeply appreciated.”


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Jay’s brother, Mike Weaver, frontman of the band, announced the news on Sunday (Jan. 2) through social media, saying: “My brother Jay went to be with Jesus just a couple hours ago.” He continued, “You’ve seen him walk the uphill battle and you guys helped carry him through so much. The Lord used him in such a mighty way out on the road for so many years. Anybody who’s come in contact with him knows how real his faith in Jesus was. Even though COVID took his last breath, Jesus was right there to catch him.”

According to The Tennessean, Jay Weaver is survived by his wife, Emily Weaver, and three children, Makenzie, Madison and Nathan Weaver. No memorial arrangements have been announced at this time.

Formed in 1998, Big Daddy Weave has achieved multiple No. 1 singles, including “I Know,” “Alive,” “Love Come To Life,” “Redeemed,” “The Only Name (Yours Will Be),” “Overwhelmed” and “My Story.” The Platinum-certified “Redeemed” spent 11 weeks at No. 1, was dubbed Song of the Year at the first annual K-LOVE Fan Awards, and earned Dove Award and Billboard Music Award nominations. The band’s catalog has over 471 million career on-demand streams.

Nashville Music Publishing Veteran, Drew Alexander, Dies At 52

Andrew “Drew” Alexander

Andrew “Drew” Alexander, a veteran music publisher and the son of former U.S. Senator and Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander and Leslee “Honey” Alexander, died Friday (Dec. 31) after a short illness. He was 52.

Alexander was born in Washington, D.C. in 1969 and soon moved with his family to Nashville, where his father practiced law and established his political career.

He attended Ensworth School and graduated from the University School of Nashville before attending Kenyon College in Ohio where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music.

In 1994 he joined Nashville’s Curb Records as a receptionist, eventually rising to lead the company’s publishing department where he oversaw the division’s employees and songwriters. Alexander also directed creative and administrative aspects of the company by setting budgets, signing songwriters, negotiating contracts, placing songs, and acquiring catalogs. He became Vice President of Publishing in 2010.

During his tenure, Curb Music Publishing earned 87 ASCAP, BMI and SESAC performance awards, and set records for the fastest rising country single and the longest charting country single in Billboard Country chart history at the time.

In 2017, after 23 years with the company, Alexander stepped down from his role at Curb Music Publishing but continued working with the Mike Curb Foundation. He founded his own company, Blair Branch Music, and became an active community volunteer working with numerous Nashville agencies, including Second Harvest Food Bank, Nashville Rescue Mission, Music Health Alliance, and Room at the Inn.

Alexander served on the boards of The Recording Academy, Belmont School of Music, Family and Children’s Service, the Community Resource Center, Leadership Music as Treasurer, and the Tennessee Residence Foundation as Secretary. He was a member of the Country Music Association, the Gospel Music Association, Academy of Country Music, and the Downtown Nashville Rotary Club.

Over the years Alexander also hosted small groups of songwriters and artists, including Lee Brice, Bill Anderson, Kyle Jacobs, Billy Montana, Kelsea Ballerini and many others, at writing retreats at his family’s home at Blackberry Farm, at Evins Mill in Middle Tennessee, and at Bending Lake in Canada. From these dozens of sessions, more than 1,000 songs were produced including many hits.

Alexander is survived by two daughters, Lauren Blair Alexander and Helen Victoria Alexander; his parents, Honey and Lamar Alexander; two sisters, Leslee Alexander and Kathryn Alexander; his brother, Will Alexander; and, seven nieces and nephews.

There will be a private graveside service for family members at the family cemetery at Hesse Creek Chapel in Walland, Tennessee. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. A Celebration of Life in Nashville will be held at a later date.

Penny Jackson Ragsdale, Wife Of Ray Stevens, Passes Away At 78

Pictured (L-R): Penny Jackson Ragsdale, Ray Stevens. Photo: Jason Kempin

Penny Jackson Ragsdale, wife of Country Music Hall of Fame member Ray Stevens, has passed away following a prolonged battle with cancer. Ragsdale died at her Nashville home on Dec. 31 the age of 78.

Ragsdale is survived by Stevens, her husband of more than 60 years; two daughters, Timi and Suzi; four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Ragsdale’s memorial service will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 11 at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home (9090 Hwy 100, Nashville, 37221). A visitation will take place at 1:30 p.m. with a service to follow at 2:30 p.m.

12x nominated and two-time Grammy award winner Ray Stevens has produced 60 years of comedic musical content, including his multi-million selling hit “The Streak” and pop standard “Everything Is Beautiful.” Throughout his career, Stevens has sold more than 40 million albums, and opened his own Nashville entertainment venue, the CabaRay Showroom, in 2018. He is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, has a star on the Music City Walk of Fame.

Bluegrass Great J.D. Crowe Passes

J.D. Crowe (pictured third from left) and the New South. Photo: Rounder Records

Grammy Award winning Bluegrass Hall of Fame member J.D. Crowe died Friday (Dec. 24) in Lexington, KY at age 84.

Noted as one of the genre’s greatest banjo stylists, Crowe led The New South, a band that fostered the careers of such future stars as Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, Tony Rice and Keith Whitley. He also played with fellow Bluegrass Hall of Fame members Doyle Lawson, Mac Wiseman, Vassar Clements and Jimmy Martin.

James Dee “J.D.” Crowe was born in Lexington in 1937. At age 12, he heard Earl Scruggs on the radio and was inspired to take up the banjo. He loved rock ’n’ roll and blues sounds, but dreamed of playing with country stars.

Jimmy Martin heard Crowe playing on local radio when he passed through Lexington. He persuaded the teenagers’ parents to let him spend the summer vacation of 1954 performing in Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys. Mac Wiseman took Crowe under his wing the following summer.

After high-school graduation in 1956, Crowe joined Martin’s troupe full time. This edition of the Sunny Mountain Boys achieved stardom on KWKH’s Louisiana Hayride and WWVA’s Wheeling Jamboree. It also recorded many of the Jimmy Martin classics released on Decca Records — “Oceans of Diamonds,” “Sophronie,” “Rock Hearts” and the like.

Crowe left the group in 1961, returned to Lexington and formed his own Kentucky Mountain Boys. This band included Doyle Lawson, Bobby Slone, Larry Rice and Red Allen and recorded the 1969 album Bluegrass Holiday.

Larry’s brother Tony Rice joined on guitar and the group was renamed The New South in 1972. This band was innovative, because Crowe incorporated folk, pop and country elements into its bluegrass sound. Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas and Tony Rice were all in The New South when it recorded the legendary Rounder Records LP J.D. Crowe & The New South in 1975

Crowe’s driving rhythms, tasteful licks and flawless tone on banjo remained hallmarks of the band for more than 30 years. He was also a pitch-perfect baritone harmony vocalist. His years of training with Jimmy Martin made him a master of timing and a renowned mentor. Among those who passed through the New South were such bluegrass greats as Jimmy Gaudreau, Harley Allen, Tony King and future Diamond Rio member Gene Johnson.

Keith Whitley joined the group in 1978. Crowe reoriented the band’s style to a more hardcore country sound to accommodate Whitley’s masterful honky-tonk voice. Crowe showcased the young singer on the albums My Home Ain’t in the Hall of Fame (1979) and Somewhere Between (1982). Both albums included steel guitar, electric bass and drums to augment The New South’s bluegrass instrumentation.

While maintaining his own band’s progressive approach, J.D. Crowe joined the traditional bluegrass side project The Bluegrass Album Band alongside Lawson, Douglas, Rice, Vassar Clements, Bobby Hicks, Todd Phillips and Mark Schatz. This “supergroup” was mainly a recording ensemble, rather than a touring one. The Bluegrass Album Band issued six albums between 1980 and 1996. Meanwhile, Crowe continued to tour and record with The New South.

J.D. Crowe was named Banjo Player of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in 1971, 1994 and 2004. He won a Grammy Award in 1983 for his instrumental “Fireball.”

Crowe was inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2003. The New South album Lefty’s Old Guitar won the IBMA’s Album of the Year award in 2007.

In recent years, J.D. Crowe had been suffering from COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was hospitalized last week, but was hoping to return home for Christmas.

J.D. Crowe is survived by his wife Sheryl Moore Crowe; children, James David Crowe and Stacey Crowe; and granddaughter Kylee Crowe.

Visitation will be held on Wednesday, December 29th, from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the Jessamine Christian Church (130 Courchelle Dr, Nicholasville, KY 40356). A funeral service will be held on Thursday, December 30th at 1:00 PM at the same location.