Jerry Kennedy

Jerry Glenn Kennedy (born 10 August 1940) is an American record producer, songwriter and guitar player.

Kennedy signed a recording contract with RCA Records at age 11. He subsequently recorded several singles, several of which included Chet Atkins. Thereafter Kennedy became something of a teen idol at his high school. Though he never became a star as a vocalist, he sang background vocals for several Mercury Records artists as a teenager. After working recording sessions around Shreveport for several years, he was convinced to move to Nashville by Irving Green, president of Mercury Records. Kennedy arrived in Nashville just as the country music boom of the 1960s was getting underway. Soon after his arrival, he was asked to not only work as a talent scout for Mercury’s country subsidiary, Smash Records, but to begin producing sessions and playing in recording sessions as well.

Kennedy and Tommy Tomlinson, a Louisiana Hayride star from Minden, Louisiana, developed four instrumental albums for Mercury Records in 1960. The albums entitled “Tom & Jerry”, cover all genres of music, also included Hank Garland, Boots Randolph, Bob Moore, and Harold Bradley.

Jerry Kennedy Orchestra participate to the complete sessions recording for Johnny Hallyday in 1962. Five discs was issue from this sessions: “Johnny Sings America’s rockin’ hits”, “The 1962 Nashville sessions Vol.2 The French recordings” re-issued on a CD in 1990, CD “Nashville Session 62”, a CD 5 titles of the Club Dial “C’est fini miss Molly” and a CD include in “Johnny Hallyday – Le Livre”.

Kennedy was one of the session musicians used by Bob Dylan in recording his classic album, Blonde On Blonde in 1966.

A recipient of four Grammys, Kennedy has seen his dobro and guitar work featured on the albums of artists as varied as Elvis Presley, Kris Kristofferson and Ringo Starr. Another work done by Kennedy on dobro was Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley PTA”. Kennedy played on or produced nearly all of the country music records of Jerry Lee Lewis.

In 1968, Shelby Singleton, who had served something of a mentor to Kennedy, left Smash. Kennedy took the reins, and ran Smash Records until 1970, when Mercury shut down that label and appointed him as the head of its country music division. His time at Mercury produced memorable hits from country music artists such as Roger Miller, Reba McEntire, The Statler Brothers, Johnny Rodriguez, and Tom T. Hall. Hall, speaking in 1974, credited Kennedy with getting him started in the business. “I had a lot of good songs I couldn’t get recorded. Jerry Kennedy of Mercury Records asked me to record them, so I did.” After receiving this encouragement from Kennedy, Hall went on to record nine LPs with Mercury Records from 1968 to 1974, including his famous “Harper Valley PTA”. Kennedy himself left Mercury in 1984 to start JK Productions, through which he produced recordings by The Statler Brothers, Connie Smith, Mel McDaniel, Reba McEntire and other artists.

In 1987, Kennedy and David Briggs released a cut for Mercury Records credited to Joe Kenyon, which was a cover of Vangelis‘ “Hymne”. E & J Gallo Winery used this version in its commercials, and it went to number 33 on Hot Country Songs.

Kennedy is the father of songwriter, musician and producer Gordon Kennedy.

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