Canadian country manager, label owner and songwriter Don Grashey passed away at home in Thunder Bay, Ontario yesterday (Sept. 12) at the age of 79.

Canadian country manager, label owner and songwriter Don Grashey passed away at home in Thunder Bay, Ontario yesterday (Sept. 12) at the age of 79.

His death coincided with the presentation of the 2005 Canadian Country Music Awards in Calgary, Alberta. Just ten days earlier, his longtime business partner Chuck Williams also passed on.

Grashey was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989. He is widely recognized for discovering American country singer Loretta Lynn while she was performing in Vancouver, British Columbia nightclubs in the late '50s. Grashey signed Lynn to his Vancouver-based Zero Records label, and produced her regional hit "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl."

In addition, Grashey discovered 14 year-old Canadian singer Myrna Lorrie in 1955, and launched her short-lived North American country career.

Grashey's most sustained production and management success came with Canadian singer Carroll Baker, Canada's reigning country queen of the 1970s and 1980s.

Grashley produced 18 No. 1 Canadian hits for Baker on his Gaiety Record label and then for RCA Records Canada. These included "I've Never Been So Far Before," "The Hungry Fire of Love," and "One Night of Cheatin."

Baker broke down when informed of her mentor's death by Billboard.biz. "I can't believe it," she said. "I talked to him last week and I was going to see him later this month. We went through so much together."

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