Country Music Exec Jerry Bradley, Who Shaped Nashville’s Sound, Dies At 83

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Country Music Exec Jerry Bradley, who shaped Nashville's sound, dies at 83
Country Music Exec Jerry Bradley, who shaped Nashville's sound, dies at 83

Family members confirmed Bradley’s death in a release to The Tennessean but did not provide a cause, according to United Press International (UPI).

WASHINGTON — Country music executive Jerry Bradley, whose skills and savvy as a producer pushed the genre to new heights in the 1970s and ’80s, has died in Nashville, United States (US), his family announced Monday. He was 83.

Family members confirmed Bradley’s death in a release to The Tennessean but did not provide a cause, according to United Press International (UPI).

A 2019 inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Bradley is credited with giving the genre a wildly successful new direction in the 1970s as head of the Nashville division of RCA records with his backing of what became known as Outlaw Country.

The phenomenon was launched by the 1976 release of the album Wanted! The Outlaws, which, in fact, was a compilation of earlier recordings made by Waylon Jennings, his wife Jessi Colter, Willie Nelson and Tompall Glaser, and packaged with a striking image of a wanted poster.

The album was a huge success and heralded a new, “progressive” era for country music that blended the energy and attitude of rock ‘n’ roll with the traditional musical sensibilities of “golden era” country music of the 1950s and ’60s.

The marketing techniques mastered by Bradley helped the project become the first million-selling country album certified by the Recording Industry Association of America, according to the Country Music of Hall of Fame.

Newfound Respect For Country Music

In addition to the progressive push of Outlaw Country, Bradley pioneered the mainstream pop-country crossover of the ’80s through the development of artists such as Ronnie Milsap, Alabama, Charley Pride and Dolly Parton for RCA.

“Once Jerry took the reins at RCA, he innovated — wresting marketing budgets and album cover control from New York; expanding country’s reach to entice pop and rock fans; and nurturing dynamic artists like Alabama, Waylon Jennings, Ronnie Milsap, Dolly Parton and Charley Pride, enabling their Hall of Fame careers,” Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young said in a statement.

“Thanks to Jerry, country music gained newfound respect and commercial clout.”

He left the company in the mid-1980s to spearhead the newly formed Opryland Music Group, where he signed a new generation of artists such as Kenny Chesney to publishing deals. — Bernama

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