Hall of Fame Induction Is a Family Affair for Former RCA Head Jerry Bradley
For Jerry Bradley, induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame as a Non-Performer adds another dimension to his relationship with his late father and uncle, the legendary musicians and producers Owen Bradley and Harold Bradley.
Collectively, the Bradley brothers revolutionized country music, with Owen helping to develop the Nashville sound that brought country music into mainstream culture. Working with artists including Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, Owen Bradley produced some of the biggest hits in country music history, including Cline's "Crazy," Lee's "I'm Sorry" and Lynn's signature song, "Coal Miner's Daughter." His brother Harold was an acclaimed session musician who played on songs from Elvis Presley, Cline and Willie Nelson.
Jerry followed in the footsteps of his family members, learning the craft of producing and engineering from his father Owen in the 1960s. Jerry eventually became an assistant to Chet Atkins, famed guitarist and producer who worked with Presley, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, Porter Wagoner and other icons at RCA Records Nashville before moving up the ladder to become head of the label in 1973.
Bradley had his breakthrough when he signed Alabama in 1980.
"I was looking for a group; not a Randy Owen and Alabama, I was looking for a band. I was in my car going back to Franklin, Tenn., and they were playing 'My Home's in Alabama.' I went and called Harold Shedd [Alabama's producer] the next morning and said, 'Bring me a tape' and he came over. I signed them that day," Jerry recalls.
Under his leadership, RCA also signed Ronnie Milsap and was the record label home for Parton when she released "Here You Come Again" and "9 to 5." Throughout his career, Jerry kept the advice of his father close.
"It costs just as much to cut a bad song as a good song, that's one of them," he says of a memorable piece of advice he received from his father. "I used to tell people, they'd say, 'I went to lunch with your dad,' I said, 'Well did you listen to him? Somewhere in your conversation, I'm sure he gave you some good advice.' He was good at giving you a one-liner."
An eye-opening conversation with his father changed the course of his music career. A fan of rock and roll, Jerry had ambitions of producing rock acts and was actively seeking songs in the genre. His father pointed out that of the few studios in Nashville producing hundreds of songs a week, only a few of them were rock songs. "He said, 'How many of those [songs] were rock and roll?' I said, 'One or two.' He said, 'Why don't you go with the odds?' That changed my life right there. I said, 'I'm going to get country quick,'" Jerry says with a laugh. "I still respect him."
At the age of 79, Jerry still feels his father's impact, becoming emotional as he acknowledged Bradley during a press conference announcing the inductees.
"This is the greatest honor anyone could receive in country music," he said. "I'll be proud to take my place in the Hall along with my dad Owen and my uncle Harold."
Jerry Bradley will officially become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame at a ceremony in the fall. Brooks & Dunn will be inducted as a Modern Era Artist, while Ray Stevens has been named as Veterans Era Artist.
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