At least that’s what uber producer Tony Brown believes. “I was going to write an autobiography, but I didn’t think I could stay with a book that long,” Tony said on Tuesday afternoon (June 12). “So I thought I would tell my story in pictures. If you ever wonder what my life was like, you’ll find it in this book, Elvis, Strait, to Jesus.”
The coffee-table tome is visually stunning, containing hundreds of photos from Tony’s stellar career as a gospel pianist, rock sideman, country band member, record producer, label executive and bon vivant. Forty of Tony’s celebrity friends posed for formal portraits in his elaborately carved French Renaissance chair. The various images and Tony’s text have been presented and laid out by the “chair” portrait photographer, Rick Caballo.
At a reception co-sponsored by BMI and MusicRow, Rick and Tony were presented with framed souvenirs saluting the book’s Gold honor as an International Design Award recipient. “This award is as much Tony’s as it is mine,” said designer Rick. “He was the juice. I just squeezed it. Tony’s brilliance is that he lets other people shine in the moment.”
“I’ve been so privileged to work with so many great people,” said Tony. The Hachette Book Group presented him with a leather-bound custom edition of his book. “It looks like a Bible!” exclaimed Tony.
BMI’s Jody Williams welcomed the crowd, saying, “Tony’s career is a trip through American music history. He was always trying to expand the boundaries of country music. That made our city more attractive to artists of all musical genres.” Which in turn set the stage for Nashville’s emergence as “the IT city.” Jody introduced a video that contained Tony testimonials from Steve Earle, Trisha Yearwood, Rosanne Cash, Lyle Lovett and Reba McEntire. A special video greeting came from Priscilla Presley.
MusicRow’s Sherod Robertsontook the stage to say, “I’m thrilled to be able to participate in this. At MusicRow, we’ve witnessed Tony Brown’s contributions over the years. Our industry is built on relationships, and this book documents those moments that are the building blocks of Music Row.
“People ask me, ‘How do I break into Music Row?’ You don’t ‘break in,’ you build in, and that’s what Tony did. Tony’s influence has created ripples that extend much deeper than we can calculate. I’m one of the many people in this industry who have been impacted by the ripples you created. No one has ever shaped country music as much as Tony Brown did. Our industry is changing. Buildings on Music Row may be torn down. But one thing that will never be torn down is the influence and legacy of Tony Brown.”
Among those applauding the book’s publication were David Briggs, John Briggs, John & Beth Stein, Emmylou Harris, Scott Borchetta, Bill Carter, Melissa Core Caballo, Tim DuBois, Becky Hobbs, Amy Garges, Chuck Ainlay, Jessie Nobleand Paul Kennerley, many of whom are pictured in the volume.
Juanita Copeland was in the crowd of well-wishers. She’s still managing the Sound Emporium studio, despite its ownership changes. It is now a Lipscomb University property, but she maintains its ties to the past by displaying artifacts recalling Cowboy Jack Clement and Garth Fundis. Sounds like a must-see.
Also lining up for Tony Brown book autographs were Doug Johnson, Dale Dodson, Mark Moffatt, Pat Higdon, Barb Hall, Jim Zumwalt, David Preston, Lois Riggins Ezell, Sarah Brosmer, Jeff Balding and more.
Quoth the Man of the Hour, “Everybody says, ‘What’s so great about being in the music business?’ Everything!”