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Passings: Country Music Hall of Fame Member Jim Foglesong (1922 - 2013)

Photo: Country Music Hall of Fame
Jim Foglesong, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame elected in the non-performer category, died on Tuesday at the age of 90 after a brief illness.

Foglesong came from a musical family and, by the age of 15, was singing on a local radio show. He joined the Army during World War II where he continued using his love of music to entertain the troops and, after the war, became a voice major at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.

After graduation, Foglesong moved to New York to try to break into the music business as a performer and, on the side, worked for Columbia Records, transferring old 78's to tape to prepare them for release on LPs.  While he still wanted to perform, he opted to take a permanent path in the line of production, working on releases for the new Epic label.

Jim also found himself spending more and more time in Nashville where he got to know many of the stars of the day. After many years of working mainly in classical music, he was fascinated by the spontaneity of the musicians as they wrote arrangements while in the recording studio.

In 1970, Foglesong moved to Nashville to work for Dot Records as head of A&R with one of his first signings being Donna Fargo who soon had a huge crossover hit with Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A. It was the record that put Dot on the Nashville map and would lead to Foglesong's ascension to president of the label in 1973, a first for a label executive that was based in Music City.  He would continue his signings with future Hall of Famer Don Williams, TexMex artist Freddie Fender and, later in the decade, Barbara Mandrell and the Oak Ridge Boys.

As the new decade dawned, Foglesong added two more major names to the ABC/Dot (now MCA) label with Reba McEntire and George Strait but, in 1984, he left his label home to become head of the country division at Capitol. It was there that he signed and oversaw the production of the first album by Garth Brooks.

A little over a year after that major signing, Foglesong left Capitol and the music business. During the 90's and 2000's, he became a professor at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music, a position that he left just last year.

Foglesong was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2004. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Toni, and four children.