Jim Foglesong, Label Exec, Hall Of Famer, Dies

Jim Foglesong, a record label executive and music producer who helped launch Garth Brooks’ career and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, died Tuesday. He was 90.

Kristin Whittlesey, a spokeswoman at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music where Foglesong had been a faculty member since 1991, said Foglesong died Tuesday morning. A statement from his family released through the Country Music Hall of Fame said Foglesong died at a Nashville hospital after a brief illness.

Foglesong, a West Virginia native, began his career in New York as a session singer, producer and record executive and moved to Nashville in 1970 after helping Columbia Records launch subsidiary Epic.

He began as the head of independent label Dot Records in Nashville and, following a series of mergers, took over as president of Capitol Records’ Nashville division from 1984-89 where he helped launch the career of Brooks, country music’s best-selling artist.

“Today, the music industry lost its greatest diplomat for kindness, tolerance, faith, and sincerity,” Brooks said in an emailed statement. “But do not weep for Jim, I have never met a man with a stronger faith, anyone who knew Jim knows where he is now. Instead, weep for those of us who are left here without him … truly, a great, great man.”

Brooks wasn’t the only musician whose career was touched by Foglesong before he turned to academics later in life. Late in his career, he oversaw label rosters that included Brooks, George Strait, Reba McEntire, Barbara Mandrell, Don Williams, Roy Clark, Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard and Conway Twitty.

All have joined him as members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2004.

“He was such an important influence on my career as my record company president for most of the years I spent recording,” Mandrell said in an email statement. “He was a loving and caring friend who provided thoughtful wisdom and guidance.”

Photo: Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Donn Jones/AP
At the Medallion Ceremony honoring him in Nashville, Tenn.

After retiring from the business, Foglesong taught at Trevecca Nazarene University and Vanderbilt, where one of his students was future country music star Dierks Bentley.