Seven-decade veteran of Music Row Jerry Crutchfield died January 11 at age 87.
Crutchfield has had a multi-faceted career as a record producer, songwriter, label executive, singer, and music publisher. He produced hit country records for Tanya Tucker, Lee Greenwood, Tracy Byrd and many others. His gospel productions have been nominated for the Dove Awards. He ran MCA Publishing (now Universal) for 25 years. He ran the Capitol Records office in Nashville. He has written several hit songs and sung for many Music City stars.
Born in Paducah, Kentucky in 1934, the future music manager cited his father’s big band records as one of his early influences. In high school, he sang in teenage doo-wop groups as well as gospel quartets. At 18, he joined the gospel group Melody Masters in Princeton, Indiana. While attending Murray State College, he began making inroads in Nashville. He also worked as a disc jockey on local radio.
He and his brother Jan Crutchfield (1938-2012) were signed to RCA Records as members of the pop group The Country Gentlemen in 1956. The name caused confusion that it was a country act , so the billing was changed to The Escorts. The two brothers then embarked on a career as songwriters. Brother Jan’s catalog includes country classics such as “Statue of a Fool”, “Tear Time” and “It Turns Me Inside Out”.
Jerry Crutchfield songs have been recorded by country stars such as George Jones, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams Jr., Eddy Arnold, Bobby Bare, Roy Rogers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, Tammy Wynette, Connie Smith and Hank Thompson. His hits include Bobby Bare’s “Find Out What’s Happening”, Wanda Jackson’s “Fancy Satin Pillows”, Dottie West’s “Every Word I Write” and Charley Pride’s “Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger”.
He also placed songs with R&B stars like Irma Thomas, Slim Harpo, Dee Dee Warwick and Arthur Alexander. Pop stars Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee (“My Whole World Is Falling Down”) and Nick Lowe also recorded Jerry Crutchfield’s tracks.
Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley hired him as backup singer. During her early years on Music Row, Crutchfield sang on records by Hank Snow, Webb Pierce, Roger Miller, Jerry Reed, Bill Anderson, Hawkshaw Hawkins and more.
In 1962 he was hired to head the publishing division of Decca/MCA. Among the writers he nurtured were Don Schlitz, Dave Loggins, Russell Smith, Gary Burr, Rob Crosby and Mark Nesler. Crutchfield took a hiatus from MCA to run Capitol Records in Nashville for four years in the 1980s, then returned to music publishing.
As a record producer, his major hits include Barbara Fairchild (‘The Teddy Bear Song’, 1973), Dave Loggins (‘Please Come to Boston’, 1974), Lee Greenwood (‘God Bless the USA’, 1984), Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (“Sure Feels Like Love”, 1982), Tracy Byrd (“The Keeper of the Stars”, 1995) and Tanya Tucker (over 20 top 10 hits from 1986-1994). Crutchfield has also produced Glen Campbell, Jody Miller, Chris LeDoux, Anne Murray, Ringo Starr, Sammy Kershaw, Shenandoah, Suzy Bogguss, Dan Seals, Cleve Francis, Brenda Lee, Delbert McClinton, Jason Ringenberg, Barbara Mandrell and Buck Owens, among others. . .
He also rose to prominence as a gospel producer. Crutchfield has worked with The Hemphills, Doug Oldham, Cynthia Clawson and Terry Bradshaw in this genre.
In the 1990s he began running his own publishing companies, Crutchfield Music and Glitterfish Music. Tim McGraw, George Strait and Martina McBride are among the artists who have recorded songs from these companies’ catalogs. Crutchfield also worked as a freelance producer for over 20 years.
This multi-talented Music Row figure produced Jimmy Dean’s national television series in 1973-75. He wrote a series of children’s books, The Adventures of Dr. Raccoon. Crutchfield has served on the boards of the Country Music Association, the Gospel Music Association, and the Nashville Chapter of the Recording Academy. He was also a former National Administrator of the Academy. There is a scholarship in his name at Murray State and an exhibit of his career memorabilia.
Jerry Crutchfield is survived by his wife of 62 years, Patsy, his son Martin, his daughter Christy Fields (husband James Fields) and three grandchildren, Adison, Chase and Luke Fields.
A musical celebration of life will be announced and held at a later date.
Anyone wishing to make a memorial contribution in Jerry’s name can do so by donating through the American Federation of Musicians to the Emergency Relief Fund or the Crisis Relief Fund.