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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

Caroline Polk O’Meara

(bc1966). American music critic and editor. He graduated from Yale University in 1988. He began writing at the Rolling Stone in the late 1980s, where he often covered hip-hop, country, and rock music. In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Light advised readers to pay closer attention to rap, pointing out that many artists had been critiquing urban violence well before the Rodney King beating. In 1993, Light left Rolling Stone to help launch the hip-hop magazine Vibe, where he was first the music editor before being promoted to editor-in-chief at the age of 26. During his six years at Vibe, Light helped the magazine demonstrate the appeal, profitability, and significance of hip-hop culture to both readers and advertisers. He left Vibe for Spin, staying there for three years as editor-in-chief. While Light was at Spin, the magazine, known for its coverage of alternative music, expanded its coverage of mainstream artists, reaching out to a broader audience. Since leaving ...

Article

Jonas Westover

(b Boston, MA, May 10, 1937). American music critic, publicist, and editor. Solomon is best known for her contributions to the Village Voice, but has also written for Down Beat, Country Music, Hit Parader, the News World, and Us. She was one of the first women involved in popular music criticism; her work focused on folk music of the 1960s, jazz, blues, rock, and country music. Solomon’s column in the Village Voice was called “Riffs.” She also served as editor for the magazine ABC-TV Hootenanny (1963–4), which highlighted performers on the television show of the same name who were just beginning to rise to fame, including Judy Collins, Earl Scruggs, and Doc Watson. Other writers whose work appeared in the magazine included Theodore Bikel and Jean Shepard. Another of her important editing positions was on the magazine New Musical Express (NME) in the 1970s. Solomon also had a brief tenure as a publicist for Chess Records, where she produced a number of liner notes. Her commentary on such diverse subjects as J.J. Cale and Paul McCartney has given her voice a lasting impression in the music business....

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, ...

Article

Daphne G. Carr

[Thackray, Jerry ]

(b Chelmsford, England, April 21, 1961). English popular music critic and publisher. True is known as an incendiary character in British popular music journalism due to his self-aggrandizing tone, his polemical attitude, and his general curmudgeonliness. His pseudonym comes from an early 20th-century comic strip of a similarly behaving character.

He is known as the Legend, after Creation Records head Alan McGee gave him the role of MC at his club, Communication Bar. McGee let him write for the club’s fanzine, but True quit after two issues and started his own fanzine The Legend! He then wrote for New Musical Express (1983–8), was fired, and went to work for its rival Melody Maker (1988–2000). A 1989 assignment to profile Sub Pop Records for Melody Maker led him to befriend Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. True was at Cobain’s house at the time of Cobain’s suicide. He later published ...

Article

Jayson Greene

[neth ]

(b New York, NY, Feb 1, 1953). American music critic, film critic, and editor. Ken Tucker is the pop-music critic for the NPR program Fresh Air with Terry Gross, appearing weekly to review new releases. He is also editor-at-large for Entertainment Weekly magazine, where he has worked in various capacities since its founding in 1989. His Entertainment Weekly writing has won two National Magazine Awards, and his music criticism earned him two ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards (2003, 2004). Prior to that, he was the TV critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1984. He also served as film critic for New York Magazine in the years 2004–05. His writing about television, books, and music has appeared in Rolling Stone, SPIN, Esquire, the Village Voice, Vogue, and the New York Times. He has also made numerous television appearances, serving as a cultural observer on programs such as ...

Article

Gilles Potvin

(b Natashquan, Quebec, Oct 27, 1928). Canadian songwriter, singer, poet and publisher . He wrote poems and songs while teaching French and mathematics in Quebec City. He first sang publicly in 1960 and his success led to a first recording in 1962. Two years later, his song Jack Monoloy won second prize at an international competition in Sopot, Poland. His best-known song is Mon pays, also sung at Sopot in 1965. He has toured extensively in Canada and French-speaking countries of Europe. He was awarded a Grand Prix du Disque by the Académie Charles Cros in 1970 and 1984. Vigneault’s songs are about the people of Quebec, specifically those who live on his native north shore of the St Lawrence. Some of his songs contain social protest, some are simple love stories, some are whimsical and humorous.

EMC2 (C. Rioux) M. Gagné: Gilles Vigneault (Quebec City, 1977)...