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September 9, 2014

Time: 11:30AM-1:00PM

AIMP Nashville - Q&A With Legendary Producer FRED FOSTER

A BIG thanks to AIMP Nashville's sponsor Fifth Third Bank LUNCH IS FREE FOR MEMBERS (and Non-Members the reduced fee of $10)!  Sign up now as space is limited.

Please only reserve a spot if you are available to attend!  Non-Members must pre-pay to be considered reserved.



Please join us for a Q & A with legendary producer Fred Foster.  In this casual conversation, Foster will talk about working with such acts as Roy Orbison, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and the running of Monument Records.


Fred Foster


Peter Cooper

AIMP Panel

Place: View Map
ASCAP - Connie Bradley Board Room
2 Music Square West
Nashville, TN 37203


Music entrepreneur Fred Foster contributed a great deal to Nashville country-pop of the 1960s and '70s as a producer and as the head of one of the city's strongest independent labels, Monument. He is best known for producing most of the biggest and best classic hits by Roy Orbison, whom Fosterproduced for the first half of the '60s. He also played a vital role in the career of Kris Kristofferson, and worked with Willie NelsonDolly PartonRay Stevens, and others.

Foster entered the music business in retail, distribution, and promotion, including a stint as a representative for ABC-Paramount. In 1958, while working for a distributor in Baltimore, he simultaneously began Monument Records and the publishing company Combine Music. After having some success with records by Billy GrammerBilly GravesDick FloodJerry Byrd, and Bob Moore,Foster moved Monument to Nashville in 1959. The following year, he began producing Roy Orbison for Monument, landing Orbison's first big hit, "Only the Lonely."

From 1960 to 1964, Foster produced the overwhelming bulk of the hit songs with which Orbison is associated: "Only the Lonely," "In Dreams," "Running Scared," "Blue Bayou," "Blue Angel," "Dream Baby," "Crying," "Candy Man," "Mean Woman Blues," "It's Over," and "Oh, Pretty Woman." Of course the main factor in the hits' success was Orbison, who had a great operatic voice and combined country, pop, and rock masterfully, on both songs he wrote and songs by other composers. As a producer, Foster was also instrumental to the records' brilliance, often bringing in symphonic orchestration and heavenly choral backup vocalists. Like Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller on the Drifters' hits and Phil Spector with his Wall of Sound, Foster thus expanded rock & roll's sonic scope to include a wider range of instrumentation, although he is not credited nearly as often as those other pioneers are. Additionally, Foster and Orbison knew when a song did not need such embellishments, and could work with standard rock instrumentation, particularly on his bluesier material, such as "Mean Woman Blues," "Oh, Pretty Woman," and "Candy Man." Foster was more open to using emerging session musicians than many other Nashville producers were, giving such noted players as guitaristJerry Kennedy and Charlie McCoy early experience, which in turn made Monument's dates more interesting and varied than much of the other sessions in Nashville during this time.

Other than Orbison, Monument actually did not record much rock. Foster and Monument's sensibilities seemed much more along the lines of country-pop, rather than rock-country-pop, as Orbison's output might have been categorized. Still, with Monument, Foster worked with various major and notable minor country-pop figures throughout the '60s and '70s, including for various periods of time Dolly PartonTony Joe White, and Willie NelsonFoster was more sympathetic than most Nashville figures were to somewhat unconventional singer/songwriters, whether they were WhiteNelsonParton, or more cultish figures like Chris Gantry. He motivated Ray Stevens, most known for his comic novelties, to also do serious songs. He had the foresight to sign Kris Kristofferson as both a writer and a recording artist, although Kristofferson's vocal limitations made most people in the industry believe that the composer should work only as a songwriter.

Foster also formed an R&B subsidiary of Monument, Sound Stage 7, which had big hits by Joe Simon, although John Richbourg did Sound Stage 7's A&R. Like many record business moguls, Foster was canny enough to reinforce and consolidate his holdings by running a publishing company, Combine Music, that many of Monument's recording artists were signed to, and which in turn supplied material for many Monument releases.

Recently, Foster produced Willie Nelson's 2006 Grammy Award nominated You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker, and Nelson's collaboration with Merle Haggard and Ray Price, Last of the Breed (2007).  The latter was the winner of 2008 Grammy for Best Country Collaboration for the track "Lost Highway."  Foster also produced the 2014 release "Beauty Is," Ray Price's final recording project. 


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