NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nashville music executive Jerry Bradley, who signed Alabama and Ronnie Milsap and helped brand the outlaws style of country music during a 40-year career, died Monday. He was 83.
Bradley died peacefully in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, according to an obituary released by his family.
Bradley began his career in the 1960s, working in his family's music publishing business alongside his famous producer father, Owen Bradley. As an engineer, his clients included Loretta Lynn, Dinah Shore, Gordon Lightfoot and The Who, according to the obituary.
Bradley struck out on his own in 1970, joining RCA Records under Chet Atkins before taking over as head of the label's Nashville branch from 1973-1983. That is where he signed Alabama and Milsap. He helped market the outlaws of country music in a platinum-selling album called “Wanted: The Outlaws.” Under his leadership, the careers of Dolly Parton and Charley Pride flourished.
After leaving RCA, Bradley ran the Opryland Music Group, whose song catalogs included the classics of Hank Williams, Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers. But Bradley wanted more and acquired new staff, song pluggers, and songwriters, including Kenny Chesney, according to the obituary. Bradley retired in 2003 after the company was acquired by Sony/ATV Music.
Chesney said in a statement that Bradley "had a profound and unmeasurable impact on my life. But not just in my life. ... He helped change the lives of so many people that had a song in their heart. Jerry’s impact on our creative community will be felt for years.”
Bradley was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2019.