b. 8 December 1912, Nashville, Tennessee, USA, d. 20 December 1980, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. The family relocated to Atlanta in 1921, where Stapp was educated. He attended Georgia Tech, who had their own radio station, and became Programme Controller when WGST went commercial. He then relocated to New York, where he became a senior CBS Records executive and a friend of Phil Carlin, the Production Manager of NBC. Stapp’s abilities came to the attention of WSM in Nashville and in 1939, they appointed him Programme Manager. He created new shows on WSM and he used his friendship with Carlin to gain some of the programmes, including thePrince Albert segment of the Grand Ole Opry, network exposure. He has also been credited for ending the predominance of string bands on theOpry, by promoting Roy Acuff and later Pee Wee King and Ernest Tubb. During World War II, Stapp was involved with the study of psychological warfare in New York but spent some time working on the preparation of propaganda in London. He returned to WSM and although he had no initial interest in country music, he was appointed manager of theOpry and in that capacity instigated many continuing WSM events such as the annual DJ Convention. In 1951, with his partner providing the money and Stapp providing the know-how, he and Lou Cowan launched Tree Publishing. He hired Buddy Killen to review songs and, in 1954, the first Tree-published song, ‘By The Law of My Heart’, was recorded by Benny Martin. In 1955, two of Tree’s writers, Mae Boren Axton and Tommy Durden (with the assistance of Elvis Presley), came up with ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, which firmly established the company when Presley’s recording topped the US country and pop charts. In 1957, Stapp left WSM to become head of WKDA, a rock station and when Cowan left Tree, Killen was made a partner. In 1964, when Stapp left WKDA to devote all his time to Tree, he made Killen his vice-president. In 1975, Stapp became chairman of the Tree Board. A founder member of the Country Music Association, he held top posts in other organizations, including NARAS. He died in 1980, but in 1989, he received acknowledgement of his services to country music by his induction to the Country Music Hall Of Fame. Tree Publishing, now part of the Japanese Sony company, has been rated by Billboard as the most successful publishing company in country music.
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