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Article

Roben Jones

[John Henderson ]

(b Whitehaven, TN, April 8, 1931). American singer-songwriter, producer, publisher, and entrepreneur. He began playing bluegrass while in the military and after his discharge in 1952, played at radio stations in Wheeling, West Virginia, and Boston. While enrolled in Memphis State University (from 1954), he worked nights and weekends at the Eagle’s Nest club. After working briefly for Fernwood Records, he was hired by Sun Records, where he recorded Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, among others. He wrote hits for several of Sun’s artists, including Johnny Cash’s singles “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” and “Guess things happen that way” (both Sun, 1958).

Clement left Sun in 1960 to became a staff producer for RCA in Nashville. In 1963 he moved to Texas, started a publishing company, and produced Dickey Lee’s hit “Patches” (Smash, 1963). After returning to Nashville in 1965, he discovered and produced Charlie Pride and wrote songs for a variety of country artists, including Pride (“Just between you and me,” RCA Victor, ...

Article

Darlene Graves and Michael Graves

[William J. ]

(b Alexandria, IN, March 28, 1936). American gospel songwriter, performer, producer, and publisher. He grew up on a small farm in Indiana and graduated from Anderson College with a major in English and a minor in music. He went on to receive a master’s degree in guidance and counseling and met his future wife and song-producing partner, Gloria Sickal, while both were teaching high school. Gaither started singing gospel music as a child and in 1956 formed the Bill Gaither Trio with his brother Danny and his sister Mary Ann. He started his own publishing company in 1959. He continued to perform and compose while a teacher at Alexandria High School and in 1961 formed the Gaither Music Company to publish his works. After their marriage in 1962, Gaither and his wife wrote their first major song, “He touched me,” which was a significant hit by 1963. He re-formed the Bill Gaither Trio with Gloria and Danny, and in ...

Article

Jonas Westover

(b Bronx, NY, April 17, 1934; d Boca Raton, FL, Jan 17, 2011). American publisher, promoter, and producer. He was known as “The Man with the Golden Ear” for possessing a remarkable ability to identify music that would sell. After attending Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey, he gravitated immediately to the music industry, finding success at the Brill Building with Aldon Music Publishing. He and his partner, Al Nevins, contracted a wide variety of top-selling songwriters and performers including Neil Sedaka, Carole King, Jack Keller, and Gerry Goffin, among others. A big part of his success involved pairing writers with appropriate singers. Sedaka credited his opportunity to become a performer largely to Kirshner’s promotion; Neil Diamond, Kansas, Connie Francis, and Bobby Darin also profited from his work as a producer. Kirshner branched into recording, becoming involved with three separate labels: Chairman, Calendar, and Kirshner. One of his biggest successes came with the creation of the Monkees; he was responsible for providing the corporate-formed group with songs for their television program and spin-off albums. He also managed the studio musicians who performed on their records. Kirshner returned to this strategy with The Archies, the late 1960s band of bubblegum pop fame. From ...

Article

Travis D. Stimeling

[Charles Stacy ]

(b Knoxville, TN, June 21, 1921; d Nashville, TN, March 7, 2012). American country music journalist, publisher, and promoter. Charlie Lamb reshaped the Nashville music industry’s business practices during the 1950s and 60s and promoted Nashville as an international music center. Lamb began his career in Knoxville, where, among other jobs, he booked artists to perform on radio station WROL and reported for the Knoxville Journal. After moving to Nashville in 1951, he joined Cash Box as a columnist and ad salesman and later formed the Charlie Lamb Agency to promote several top recording artists. Lamb was a founding member of the Country Music Disc Jockey Association and organized an annual DJ convention that brought thousands of disc jockeys to Nashville. In August 1956, Lamb founded Country Music Reporter (renamed Music Reporter in 1957), a trade paper that covered the Nashville music industry and offered expanded chart coverage for country singles and albums. Selling ...

Article

Don Cusic

[Ragsdale, Harold Ray ]

(b Clarkdale, GA, Jan 24, 1939). American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, music publisher, television star, and entrepreneur. Harold Ragsdale began his musical career with a high school band that played R&B songs by the Coasters, Drifters, and other R&B groups. In 1955 the family moved to Atlanta, where publisher Bill Lowery signed him as a songwriter and secured his first recording contract with Capitol Records; Capitol’s Head of A&R, Ken Nelson changed Ragsdale’s name to Ray Stevens. After attending Georgia State University, where he studied music, Stevens had his first success with his recording of “Jeremiah Peabody’s Poly Unsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green and Purple Pills” (Mercury, 1961). In 1962 he moved to Nashville, supplementing his own recording career with work as a session musician, arranger, and background vocalist. He garnered a number-one pop hit and his first Grammy with his recording of “Everything is beautiful” (Barnaby, ...