Jack D. Johnson, who managed the careers of Charley Pride, Ronnie Milsap, T.G. Sheppard and other singers, has died. He was 79.
Johnson, who died Thursday morning after battling congestive heart failure, is credited with helping Pride become the first black superstar in country music.
"What he did took a lot of courage," Milsap said. "He brought the first black gentleman into mainstream country, and in my case he brought the first blind boy in. Those two things may never be repeated again, and he orchestrated the whole thing."
Named for the prize fighter Jack Dempsey, Johnson was born in Knoxville and spent most of his youth in east Tennessee.
He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in journalism in 1958. He and his wife, Edie, moved to Nashville in 1961 and he founded Jack D. Johnson Talent a few years later.
Milsap signed with Johnson in 1973 and also became a major star. In 1975, Johnson won the Country Music Association’s Producer of the Year award for his co-production of Milsap’s records.
A funeral was held Monday.