Tony Brown (record producer)

Last updated
Tony Brown
Also known asTarzan (with J.D. Sumner)
Born (1946-12-11) December 11, 1946 (age 74) [1]
Greensboro, North Carolina
Origin Walkertown, North Carolina
Genres Country, southern gospel
Occupation(s) Session musician, record producer
Instruments Piano
Years active1960s–present
Associated acts Reba McEntire, George Strait

Tony Brown (born December 11, 1946) is an American record producer and pianist, known primarily for his work in country music. A former member of the Stamps Quartet and backing musician for Emmylou Harris, Brown has primarily worked as a producer since the late 1980s. He is known primarily for his production work with Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, and George Strait.



Following stints with the Dixie Melody Boys and Trav'lers Quartets, he joined J. D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet in 1966. In 1972, he traveled briefly with the Blackwood Brothers, thereafter joining the Oak Ridge Boys as a member of The Mighty Oaks Band. Brown also played piano for Elvis Presley. [2] He toured with the TCB Band for much of Presley's final two years and was a part of the 1976 "Jungle Room" recording sessions at Graceland. In 1979, he joined Emmylou Harris's backing band, the Hot Band, taking over for former Presley sideman Glen D. Hardin. Brown stayed with Harris until 1981. Later, he became a session musician in Nashville and toured with acts such as Rosanne Cash.

After leaving that position, Brown became a producer, producing albums for several artists. He was also the president of MCA Nashville in the 1990s. [3] Among these acts were Tracy Byrd, Mark Chesnutt, Steve Earle, Vince Gill, The Mavericks, McBride & the Ride, Reba McEntire, David Lee Murphy, Rodney Crowell, Wynonna, Lyle Lovett, Brooks & Dunn, Trisha Yearwood, Marty Stuart, Patty Loveless, Kelly Willis, Pat Green, Chely Wright and George Strait. [1] In the 1980s, he was also the keyboardist for The Cherry Bombs, Crowell's backing band. [1] His career has yielded over 100 #1 singles and record sales from his signings and productions have exceeded the 100 million mark.

In 2002, Brown exited his position at MCA [3] and co-founded Universal South Records, a joint venture with Universal Records and long-time record executive Tim DuBois. The label's roster included Joe Nichols, Matthew West, Allison Moorer, Rockie Lynne, Shooter Jennings, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Bering Strait, Katrina Elam, Holly Williams and Matt Jenkins.

He produced the majority of tracks for one of 2012’s highest grossing albums, Tuskegee, with award-winning artist Lionel Richie, featuring duets with Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, Tim McGraw, Jimmy Buffett, Little Big Town, Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson.

A four-time Grammy Award winner, he has also been the recipient of four Academy of Country Music Awards, including the prestigious ACM Producer of the Year Award. In 1994, with numerous Gold, Platinum, and multi-Platinum albums to his credit, he was honored with a Grammy nomination for Producer of the Year, the first time a member of the country music recording industry had been in contention for that award since 1979.

Commercial success aside, Brown is often thought to be the founding father of the alternative 'Americana' country movement, having signed (and produced) genre bending artists such as Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Joe Ely, Lyle Lovett, Kelly Willis, Todd Snider, Allison Moorer, The Mavericks, Shooter Jennings and more.

Personal life

Brown's first marriage was to Janie Levin, with whom he had two children: Brennan and Brandi. [4] He was later married to Anastasia Pruitt from 1999 [2] until their divorce in 2009. [5]

During a business dinner on April 11, 2003, Brown fell down a flight of stairs, resulting in a brain injury. [4] He underwent two surgeries and fully recovered. [2]

Preceded by
Jim Dickinson
AMA Lifetime Achievement Award
for Producer/Engineer

Succeeded by
Jim Rooney

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  1. 1 2 3 Tony Brown (1946-12-11). "Tony Brown | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  2. 1 2 3 "Tony Brown's Recovery (The Tennessean)". String Theory Media. Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  3. 1 2 McCall, Michael; Rumble, John; Kingsbury, Paul (1993-12-19). The Encyclopedia of Country Music - Google Books. ISBN   9780199920839 . Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  4. 1 2 West, Kay. "Our Fight to Stay Together". Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  5. "Tony Brown and Anastasia Brown file for divorce". 2009-06-12. Retrieved 2014-06-18.