RIP Ron Baird

Ron Baird, founding agent and former head of CAA’s Nashville office, died in Nashville on Thursday, February 3 of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 60.

Baird opened CAA’s Nashville office in 1991 out of his garage as a one-man operation.

In its early years CAA was very cautious when it came to expanding outside of its L.A. home base. Baird was a surprising choice to be CAA’s man in Music City because he didn’t bring with him a stable of country headliners.  But Tom Ross, who headed CAA’s music department at the time, said it was all about finding the right kind of person for such a move.

No one ever seconded guessed the wisdom of that choice. With the additions of Rod Essig and John Huie, the fledgling CAA operation quickly became a powerhouse. Today the office features a 55-person team.

Baird’s love for music began with his first band in the second grade. After high school graduation he hit the road to tour the Western United States. He graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in Philosophy.

Baird started his career as an agent in 1975 at Good Music Agency in Missoula, Montana. Two years later he relocated to Tulsa, Okla., to join the Jim Halsey Co., which was then the largest country music agency in the world.

Halsey moved its headquarters to Nashville and in 1987 Baird was promoted to senior vice president and general sales manager of the agency.  The William Morris Agency acquired the firm the following year as part of its expansion into Nashville.

Baird joined CAA in 1991 where he spent 13 years before retiring in 2004 shortly after Shania Twain finished her tour.

He served as President of the Country Music Association in 2002 and Chairman of the Board for the organization in 2003. Pollstar recognized his achievements in 1999 with the Third Coast Agent of the Year award.

Baird is survived by his wife Cheryl, their sons John and Marc, and four grandchildren: James, Kate, Finley and Cooper.

“Ron was an extraordinary man whose dedication to and passion for his clients and colleagues alike have long inspired us,” said Rob Light, managing partner and head of the music department at CAA. “He had great love of music, a heart of gold and a generous spirit, and it is those qualities that will be the legacy of this wonderful soul. Ron will always be the cornerstone of CAA Nashville. It was an honor to know him and we extend our deepest sympathies to Ron’s beloved family.”

A celebration of Baird’s life is being held Wednesday, Feb. 9 from 5-7 p.m. at Hillwood Country Club in Nashville, Tenn. In lei of flowers, contributions can be made to Lewy Body Dementia Association (; The Salvation Army (; or to help one of Ron’s favorite places, the Glacier National Park Fund (