Country Music Hall Of Fame member Fred Foster has died at the age of 87. A legend in the music world, he was known as a producer and record label owner, among other things.
Fred founded the Monument label in 1956, and in 1958, his label scored it’s first major hit with Billy Grammer’s “Gotta Travel On”, a top five country and pop hit.
Monument would become one of the top independent labels throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, many produced by Foster. They include Roy Orbison’s classics such as “Running Scared”, “Only The Lonely”, and “Oh Pretty Woman”, among others. Boots Randolph’s hit “Yakety Sax”. Billy Walker had a string of hits on Monument during the late 60’s, while in the 1970’s, Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me” and Billy Swan’s “I Can Help” were two multi-format mega-hits that came from Monument.
Other notable works included Boots Randolph’s string of popular albums; Grandpa Jones’ biggest hit “T For Texas”, as well as his Christmas classic “The Christmas Guest”. Larry Gatlin scored his early hits for Monument, as well, while Jeanne Seely’s biggest hit, “Don’t Touch Me” was a Monument release. Connie Smith, Sonny James, and Ray Price also scored moderate hits for the label during the late 1970’s.
Fred Foster is also remembered for being the first to sign a young Dolly Parton to a recording contract, and also signing Kris Kristofferson. It was Foster who gave Kristofferson the title “Me and Bobbie McGee” that led Kris to pen one of music’s most iconic hits.
Fred also owned a music publishing company, Combine Music.
On a personal note, I never had the opportunity to meet Fred, but I do have a connection with him. Fred grew up with, and was a lifelong friend to my late father-in-law, both hailing from Rutherford County, North Carolina.
More on Fred Foster in this article from The Tennesseean. Click here.