Former record executive and producer Frank Jones died Thursday (Feb. 3) at his home in Nashville. He was 76. No cause of death has been cited.
Jones was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on March 4, 1928. According to the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Encyclopedia of Country Music, Jones began his musical career as a performer, starting his own band when he was 15. After that, he worked as a radio broadcaster and talent booker. In the 1950s, Jones joined the Columbia Records subsidiary in Canada where he first served in sales and promotion and later in the A&R (artist and repertoire/talent) department.
In 1961, Jones moved to Nashville to join Columbia’s A&R staff. Here he worked under the supervision of legendary producer Don Law. He and Law worked with such acts as Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Ray Price and Lefty Frizzell. Among the hits they jointly produced were Robbins’ “El Paso” and “Devil Woman,” Stonewall Jackson’s “Waterloo” and Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John.”
In his autobiography, Cash said Jones defended him from the label criticism he incurred after recording his 1964 pro-Indian album, Bitter Tears: “I got a lot of flak from the Columbia Records bosses while I was recording it — though Frank Jones, my producer, had the sense and courage to let me go ahead and do what I wanted.”
After leaving Columbia in 1973, Jones headed Capitol Records’ country division for the next five years. Then he moved on to similar positions as Inergi Records (1979), Warner Bros. (1980-83) and Mercury (1983-85). In 1982, Jones and rising star John Anderson joined forces to produce one of the top country hits of the decade, “Swingin’.”
Jones was a board member of the Country Music Association and served as president and chairman of the Country Music Foundation. In 1993, he was elected to the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.
Jones is survived by a brother. Funeral arrangements are pending.