Ben Farrell, Beloved Concert Promoter, Dies at 76

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Ben Farrell, seen here being inducted into the IEBA Hall of Fame at the 2016 conference in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for IEBA)

Beloved concert promoter Ben Farrell, who served as president of Varnell Enterprises, died Aug. 10 at age 76.

Farrell worked with Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, The Carpenters, The Osmonds and many other legendary artists during his formative years in the music industry and went on to promote George Strait, Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert and Garth Brooks for over three decades.

His ability to see an artist’s potential and the way to connect them with their audience was legend. But Farrell was perhaps best known for the size of his heart not the stature of his clients. 

Farrell nurtured relationships at every level from the receptionist to the C-suite with a kind word backed up by an informed, thoughtful opinion, laser sharp attention to detail and a charming drawl that drew you in. He was a captivating storyteller and had an instant recall of names, radio station call letters, seating caps and ticket sales that showed his brilliance.   

He began his career in country music in 1970 and was proud to say he worked in the industry for 52 years. Starting with Varnell Enterprises, he worked alongside Lon Varnell assisting with concert promotions, doing marketing and on-site supervision for Elvis, Elton John, Lawrence Welk and Guy Lombardo. He earned a strong reputation as a hands-on concert promoter working directly with venues.

Farrell started work with Brooks in 1989 and was the Country Music Hall of Famer’s concert promoter for more than 30 years. “I love Ben Farrell. And like Chris LeDoux, Ben Farrell will continue to be the kind of man I want to be. Honest, fair and hard working. I am lucky to have known him,” Brooks said in a release.

During his career, Farrell worked with a long list of standout performers including iconic Country Music Hall of Famers The Statler Brothers, Merle Haggard, Ricky Skaggs, Charlie Pride, Ronnie Milsap, Barbara Mandrell and recent hitmakers Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, Jason Aldean and Chris Young.

Farrell was born on July 17, 1946, in Jackson, Tennessee. His father, Kerby Farrell, was a professional baseball player and manager. Ben lettered all four years on the Chester County High School baseball team and went on to attend David Lipscomb University on a baseball scholarship. After graduation, Ferrell was drafted in 1966 by the Philadelphia Phillies and went on to play with the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox Farm Clubs.

In 1968, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and proudly served two years of active service, in which he trained troops for Vietnam. Ferrell met his wife, Autumn, in 1998; they married in 2001. In 2003, they had a daughter, Ella Grace. 

Visitation will be Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, from 4:00-6:00 PM/CT and a celebration of life (funeral) will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, at 11:00 AM/CT at Woodmont Christian Church in Nashville, Tennessee.