He may be best known as a hit producer and Nashville music publishing and record company titan, but when Jerry Crutchfield started out 50 years ago, he was a songwriter/artist.
“I had a pop/doo-wop kind of vocal group that signed with RCA Victor and our first record was released in 1956,” recalls Crutchfield. “It’s amazing to think I’ve been in this crazy business for 50 years!”
Crutchfield’s group never had a hit. But it did start him on a successful songwriting career — and he remains a BMI writer.
“I sent a demo of ‘Little Sparrow’ to Chet Atkins and he cut it with Eddy Arnold — my first major [cover] release,” says Crutchfield, who had to sing the melody part for Atkins on the phone since it was mixed too low on the demo. He would go on to land over 150 covers by the likes of Elvis Presley, Tanya Tucker, Lee Greenwood and Tammy Wynette. His “My Whole World Is Falling Down” became a pop hit for Brenda Lee in 1963 and was also a major European hit for French singing and film star Sylvie Vartan.
But Crutchfield began producing, too. “I really enjoyed the energy of the studio — and musicians making music,” he says, and sure enough, he produced Dave Loggins’s “Please Come to Boston,” one of the most successful pop records ever cut in Nashville — not to mention country hits including Lee Greenwood’s Grammy-winning “I.O.U.”
Crutchfield would serve as Executive Vice President/General Manager of Capitol Records and President of the Nashville division of MCA Music. But he also established MCA Music Publishing (now Universal Music Publishing) as a major Nashville publishing house, and had a hand in signing and developing such top Music Row writers as Loggins, Don Schlitz, Gary Burr and Mark Nesler.
He continues to run the Crutchfield Music Group of publishing companies (its Glitterfish Music catalog has had hits by George Strait, Tim McGraw and Martina McBride) while writing a series of “The Adventures of Dr. Raccoon” children’s books.
His alma mater, Murray State University in Kentucky, is currently exhibiting his memorabilia to commemorate a new scholarship in his name, but Crutchfield looks ahead. “People complain about changes in the business,” he says, “but time marches on and you have to stay with the program.”