(CelebrityAccess) Fred Foster, 87, longtime producer and Country Mussic Hall of Fame member, died in his sleep Feb. 20 after a short illness.
Foster was known for founding Monument Records in 1958 and had his hand in producing a monumental amount of iconic hits like Roy Orbison’s “Oh Pretty Woman,” “Only The Lonely” and “Crying,” Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee” (Foster was a co-writer),, and RAy Stevens’ “Help Me Make It Through The Night. He helmed Kristofferson’s debut album plus Ray Price’s last one, 2014’s Beauty Is, as noted by Billboard.
“I am heartbroken that my friend Fred Foster has passed on,” Parton says in a statement provided to Billboard. “Fred was one of the very first people to believe in me and gave me chances no one else would or could. We’ve stayed friends through the years, and I will miss him. I will always love him.”
Foster began his career through working in the food service industry, meeting Jimmy Dean and helping to promote his career. He later worked for Mercury Records and ABC-Paramount, where he launched the career of George Hamilton IV. That led to launching, on a shoestring budget, Monument Records. When the label moved from Washington D.C. to Nashville in 1960, Foster released “Only The Lonely,” creating an international star in Orbison.
In 1963, Foster began the Sound Stage 7, which became Nashville’s most prominent soul music-oriented label with singer Joe Simon on the roster. It wasn’t too long after that when Foster signed Parton.
Foster fell into financial troubles in the mid-’80s, forcing him to file for bankruptcy. Parton made a bid for Foster’s companies and said in 1981, “Fred believed in me when nobody else did.”