Dolly Parton mourned the death of Fred Foster, the legendary country music producer who launched her career, on Thursday. Foster died Wednesday at age 87.
"I am heartbroken that my friend Fred Foster has passed on. Fred was one of the very first people to believe in me and gave me chances no one else would of could," Parton wrote on Instagram. "We've stayed friends through the years and I will miss him. I will always love him."
"A Nashville legend died today, a man whose name is woven into the permanent fabric of Music City, legendary record producer and member of the Country Music Hall Of Fame," Charlie Daniels tweeted. "Rest in peace Fred Foster, you will not be forgotten my friend."
"Today, I mourn the loss of Fred Foster, the legend who I revered and who fostered artistry, individuality and broad-minded decency," Country Music Hall of Fame CEO Kyle Young said.
Foster was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016, with Parton saying he "saw things in me that nobody else did. You started my life with my first record."
Foster, who was born in 1931 in rural North Carolina, had to take over his family farm at 15 after his father died. He later moved to Washington D.C. to join his sister, but all he wanted to do was work in the music business. He achieved that dream when he joined Mercury Records in 1953 and eventually founded Monument Records in 1956 and the publisher Combine Music two years later, notes The Tennessean.
After moving his companies to Nashville in 1960, he helped launch the career of Roy Orbison, producing "Oh, Pretty Woman," "Crying," "Only The Lonely" and many other classics. He produced Parton's first album in 1967 and her first hit single, "Dumb Blonde." In 1970, Foster co-wrote "Me and Bobby McGee" with Kristofferson and produced Kristofferson's 1970 album. In 1964, he signed Willie Neslon, recording one single before Nelson joined RCA.
Other artists signed to Monument included Charlie McCoy, Ray Stevens, Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers, Jeannie Seely and Boots Randolph.
Foster sold his companies in 1990 and continued producing until last year. His final production, Dawn Landes' Meet Me At the River, was released in 2018.
"Musically I'm most proud of the relationships I had with the songwriters, artists and engineers," Foster told The Tennessean in 2016. "These people are responsible for me being here. I didn't do it by myself."
Foster joined the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2009 and earned a Trustees Award from the Recording Academy, which hands out the Grammys, in 2016.
Photo credit: Getty Images