THUNDER BAY, Ont. (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Don Grashey, the Canadian country music manager and label owner who helped discover Loretta Lynn, has died.
Grashey passed away at his home in Thunder Bay, Ont., at the age of 79. He and Vancouver producer Chuck Williams, who died just over a week ago, heard the voice of a girl in the late 1950s they thought sounded like Kitty Wells and offered her a chance to cut a record with the pair's label.
That girl was Lynn, and the record was I'm A Honky Tonk Girl.
Grashey went on to manage the music careers of Myrna Lorrie, Carroll Baker and Cindi Cain.
He was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989 and was known as a paternal figure for up-coming country singers.
"He was always like a father to me," Baker said Monday in an interview, near tears.
"He was one of the greatest parts of the past in country music in this country that anybody will ever see."
Baker released most of her records, which included a string of No. 1 hits in the late 1970s, on Grashey's Gaity label, which he ran out of Thunder Bay.
"He brought a certain business sense to the industry where there wasn't much at that time," said Larry LeBlanc of Billboard Magazine.
"He single-handedly moulded and worked with Caroll Baker."
As a songwriter, Grashey's repertoire included Are You Mine? The song has been recorded by numerous artists including Ernest Tubb and Red Sovine.