Nashville songwriter, producer, publishing executive and music industry veteran Jerry Crutchfield died Jan. 11, 2022, at age 87.
In addition to an illustrious career as a songwriter and producer, Crutchfield launched MCA Music Publishing’s Nashville office and served as its president for 25 years. He also served for four years as executive vice president and GM of Capitol/Liberty Records’ in Nashville, from 1989 to 1992.
Crutchfield was born Aug. 10, 1934. A native of Paducah, Ky., he began singing in gospel quartets during high school. At age 18, he joined the Melody Masters gospel group, which led to Crutchfield twice being offered an opportunity to join The Jordanaires. Both times, he declined the offer, instead choosing to pursue a college education. He enrolled at Murray State University, and also worked as an on-air radio personality at WCBL in Benton, Ky., and at WKYB in Paducah.
In the late 1950s, Crutchfield made his way to Nashville as part of The Escorts. Chet Atkins signed them to RCA Victor, and produced the group’s recordings for the label. The group, which also included Jerry’s brother Jan Crutchfield, appeared on the popular television show Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, as well as on Godfrey’s CBS morning show.
Jerry and Jan also found success as songwriters, with one of their first hits for other artists being “Little Sparrow,” recorded by Eddy Arnold. Jerry also began working as a studio musician and singer, and in music publishing at Tree Music. His early studio credits include performances on recordings from Webb Pierce, Jerry Reed, Roger Miller, Bill Anderson, Leroy Van Dyke, Hank Locklin, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and numerous others.
As a songwriter, Crutchfield had more than 150 songs recorded by artists including Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee, Glen Campbell, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams Jr., Tanya Tucker, Tammy Wynette, and Charley Pride. Others who recorded his songs included R&B artists Joe Tex, Lou Rawls and Arthur Alexander, bluegrasser Jimmy Martin and pop/country
artists Mac Davis and Linda Ronstadt. The Crutchfield-penned “My Whole World Is Falling Down” became a European hit for French star Sylvie Vartan, as well as a top 10 pop hit for Brenda Lee.
As a producer, Crutchfield led work on albums for artists such as Tucker, Lee Greenwood (including Greenwood’s “I.O.U.” and his signature hit “God Bless The USA”), Campbell, Wynette, Tracy Byrd, Chris LeDoux, Anne Murray, Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers, Lee and Dottie West, as well as Buck Owens, including production work on an Owens collaboration on “Act Naturally” with The Beatles member Ringo Starr.
In pop music, Crutchfield produced the Grammy-nominated Dave Loggins hit “Please Come to Boston.” In the gospel genre, he produced records for the Hemphills, Jake Hess, Cynthia Clawson and Doug Oldham. He also produced records in the Gospel/Christian genre that included a Dove Award win for traditional gospel record of the year by the Hemphills, as well as other Dove Award-nominated albums with artists including Jake Hess, Cynthia Clawson and Doug Oldham. He also worked in television as producer of 52 syndicated Jimmy Dean television shows.
During his time working in music publishing, Crutchfield signed and worked with artists including Loggins, Don Schlitz, Gary Burr, Mark Nesler and more.
Crutchfield also served as a national trustee for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), and was on the board of directors for the Nashville chapter of NARAS, the Country Music Association and the Gospel Music Association. He was also a lifetime member of the American Federation of Musicians, Nashville local 257.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Patsy, son Martin, daughter Christy Fields, and three grandchildren — Adison, Chase and Luke Fields.
A musical celebration of his life will be held at a later date. Those wishing to honor Crutchfield may make a memorial contribution in his name via the American Federation of Musicians to the Emergency Relief Fund or to the Crisis Assistance Fund.