Roy Wunsch, former president of Sony Records’ Nashville division, died Aug. 31 in Nashville of complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 75.
A native of St. Louis, Wunsch spent most of his adult life in the music business, particularly with Sony’s antecedent company, CBS Records and its major imprint labels, Columbia and Epic Records.
Among the dozens of artists whose careers Wunsch helped propel were Willie Nelson, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Johnny Paycheck, Sonny James, Chet Atkins, Ray Charles, Connie Smith, Merle Haggard, Charley Rich, Janie Fricke, Rosanne Cash, Dolly Parton, Rodney Crowell, Ricky Skaggs and Ricky Van Shelton.
In 1975, Wunsch was named national promotion and sales manager for Epic Records. Six years later, he moved up to the post of vice president of marketing for the Nashville division. In 1988, following Sony’s acquisition of the company, Wunsch was installed as senior vice president and general manager of Nashville operations.
He was president of the Nashville division from 1990 to 1993, during which time he oversaw the development of such rising artists as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Loveless, Joe Diffie, Collin Raye and Doug Stone.
In 1995, he co-founded with television producer Bud Schaetzle, Imprint Records (originally Veritas), cited as being the first publicly traded independent country music label. Its roster included Al Anderson, Gretchen Peters and Charlie Major. The company closed in 1997.
Apart from his record label distinctions, Wunsch was also active in the music community at large, having served as officer and/or board member of the Country Music Assn., the Academy of Country Music, the Country Music Foundation, Country Radio Broadcasters and the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (now the Recording Academy).
Wunsch is survived by his wife, the prominent entertainment business manager Mary Ann McCready, and two children, Cynthia Wunsch Bowen and Roy Christopher Wunsch.