Personalities | Billy Sherrill | Nashville & Beyond | Country

(Producer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, b. 1936)

One of Nashville’s most influential producers during the 1970s and early 1980s, Alabama-born Billy Norris Sherrill started out playing piano at tent shows where his father, an evangelist minister, preached. Later, he played in local rock’n’roll and R&B bands.

When he came to Nashville in 1964, Sherrill brought an outsider’s sensibility to his role as a back-line producer at Columbia Records, and held to his iconoclasm even as he rose to head the label’s Nashville operations. During the 1970s, he discovered and produced some of the label’s biggest stars. As his reputation as a hit-maker grew, his occasionally heavy-handed approach to record-making became even more lavish and extravagant. By adapting rock producer Phil Spector’s multi-layered ‘Wall Of Sound’ approach, Sherrill relentlessly pushed the country-to-pop crossover envelope. His efforts paid off with a string of landmark easy-listening crossover hits, including Charlie Rich’s ‘Behind Closed Doors’ (1973) and David Houston’s ‘Almost Persuaded’ (1966). During the same years, Sherrill also coaxed definitive honky-tonk and hard country records out of traditional artists, including George Jones and Tammy Wynette.

Styles & Forms | Nashville & Beyond | Country
Personalities | Steve Sholes | Nashville & Beyond | Country

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, consultant editor Bob Allen


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