Talent manager David Skepner died in Nashville Sept. 11 of a heart attack. While his exact age is not known, a close friend estimated it to be 63. Skepner guided Loretta Lynn's career from 1972 to 1986, during which time she rose from country star to international celebrity. This was the period when Lynn's autobiography, Coal Miner's Daughter, became a bestseller and was then made into a hit movie.
"As much as anyone else," Forbes magazine wrote in 1980, "he and Lynn ... propelled country music into the mainstream."
Skepner got his start in show business in 1960 at MCA Inc. in Los Angeles. There he worked in international television and with Decca, Lynn's record label, which later became MCA Records. He left MCA to manage Lynn.
From 1985 to 1997, Skepner managed Grand Ole Opry artists Riders in the Sky. He also handled the Dixie Chicks during the early 1990s before the trio was signed to Sony's Monument Records.
Skepner taught artist management courses at Nashville's Belmont University from 1983 to 2000 and since then at Trevecca University. He was a former chairman of the Nashville Entertainment Assn., the Tennessee Film, Entertainment & Music Commission and the Academy of Country Music. He also served on the board of governors of the International Rodeo Association.
At the time of his death, Skepner's management clients were Wylie & the Wild West, Goose Creek Symphony, the Larkins and Syd Masters & The Swing Riders.
Tall and with a military bearing, Skepner often dressed in flight jackets and naval caps. He was a member of the Tailhook Assn. and the Assn. of Naval Aviators.
Skepner is surived by a sister. A Music Row memorial service is being planned for later this month.