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Subject: Country Music Producer Fred Foster

Dies at 87
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Date Posted: Thursday, February 21, 12:01:29pm

Fred Foster, country music producer who helped launch Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson, dies at 87

Fred Foster — a Nashville music legend who helped launch the careers of Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and founded Monument Records — died Wednesday at age 87.

Foster was born July 26, 1931, in rural North Carolina. At 15, he took over the family farm when his father died, and moved to Washington, D.C., two years later where his sister lived. Foster wanted to be anything but a farmer and started to write songs.

A job in a record store was Foster’s first introduction to the music business. He was hired at Mercury Records in 1953 and worked his way up to head of national country promotion. After a brief run at ABC/Paramount in 1956, Foster started Monument Records and publishing company Combine Music in 1958. He moved the companies to Nashville two years later and went on to launch the careers of Kris Kristofferson, Parton and Nelson. He also signed Roy Orbison, whose iconic songs including “Only the Lonely” and “Oh, Pretty Woman” inspired artists ranging from The Beatles to Bruce Springsteen.

Some recordings, Foster said, he loved more than others. Jeannie Seely’s “Don’t Touch Me” and Grandpa Jones’ “The Christmas Guest,” a song Foster helped complete, were at the top of his list.

“I tried to do the best I could every time,” Foster told The Tennessean in 2016. “I tried to do something time would not be critical of. It’s like Orbison said to me one time, ‘What’s the most important thing we’re going to do?’ I said, ‘We’re going to eliminate every gimmick you come up with. They don’t endure.’”

Foster sold his history-yielding companies in 1990. We was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2009 and he was given a Trustees Award to honor his career in music from the Recording Academy in early 2016.

“Musically I’m most proud of the relationships I had with the songwriters, artists and engineers,” Foster said. “These people are responsible for me being here. I didn’t do it by myself.”

Foster was preceded in death by his parents, Vance Hampton and Clara Marcella (Weaste) Foster, and siblings Albert Glen, Estelle, Charles Vance, Ray, Pauline, Ethel Lou, and Ann. He is survived by his son Vance Foster, and daughters Micki Foster (Greg) Koenig, Leah Foster (Dillon) Alderman, Brit Foster (Judd) Rothstein, and Kristen Foster and grandchildren Rachel DiGregorio, Rhys and Tess Rothstein, and Penelope Kirschner, and many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service is being planned for March. Details will be announced in the near future.


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"Me and Bobby McGee" written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster.sung by Gordon LightfootThursday, February 21, 12:04:02pm

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