Wesley Rose

b. 11 February 1918, Chicago, Illinois, USA, d. 26 April 1990, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. The son of Fred Rose, he lived with his mother when his parents divorced and after completing college, worked…
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Artist Biography

b. 11 February 1918, Chicago, Illinois, USA, d. 26 April 1990, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. The son of Fred Rose, he lived with his mother when his parents divorced and after completing college, worked as an accountant in the Chicago offices of Standard Life. (He married Margaret Erdelyan on 16 November 1940 and they had one daughter, Scarlett.) In April 1945, while visiting an aunt in St. Louis, he was persuaded to call on his father. They had not seen each other since 1933 and he did not recognize Fred, nor, apparently, did the short-sighted Fred recognize his son. After this first reunion, Fred saw Wesley on his regular business trips to Chicago and tried to persuade him to work for the mighty Acuff-Rose publishing company, established by himself and Roy Acuff on 13 October 1942 as Nashville’s first publishing house. At the time, Wesley Rose had no interest at all in country music and certainly no desire to live in Nashville. After considerable discussions and much hesitation on Wesley’s part, he finally accepted his father’s offer of the post of general manager with responsibility for all business decisions. From December 1945, Wesley Rose became a most important part of the family business and his undoubted business skills and accountancy training freed his father to concentrate more on handling the music side of the business - not least of all the emerging talent of Hank Williams. Although Wesley had no love for country music in his early days, he had no hesitation in believing that a good country song such as those written by Hank could be a hit in popular music. He soon proved his point and made the initial breakthrough when, under his careful guidance, ‘Cold Cold Heart’ became a million-seller for Tony Bennett in 1951. Other crossover hits followed, including ‘Jambalaya’ for Jo Stafford and ‘Hey Good Lookin’’ for Frankie Laine. When Fred Rose died in 1954, Roy Acuff immediately recognized Wesley as the natural successor and placed him in full charge of all the company’s business. Under his guidance the successes are too numerous to mention, but the company’s list of talented songwriters included the Everly Brothers (whom he also managed for seven years), Don Gibson, Marty Robbins, the Louvin Brothers and Roy Orbison. In spite of his work as the head of the organization, Rose still became very active in record production of artists, including Bob Luman and others, on the company’s Hickory Label, which he had founded. Exactly when Rose’s opinion of country music changed is not clear, but in later years, he was certainly a staunch supporter of traditional country singers such as Boxcar Willie and, while he had no objections or qualms about using a country song for a crossover hit, he had a considerable abhorrence for rock ‘n’ roll. Several journalists have related the story of his statement that radio stations should not play a particular Elvis Presley recording because he always maintained that Presley was not a country singer. It was a dedicated belief, particularly when one takes into consideration that Acuff-Rose would have benefited by Presley’s record sales, since the song concerned was on their own roster. Over the years, some of his dealings caused animosity and problems. In September 1982, Roy Orbison filed a $50 million suit accusing Wesley Rose of mismanagement and fraud; Rose had been his manager since 1958. It was settled out of court for around $3 million and then the law firm sued Orbison for non-payment of fees. The Everlys also had a disagreement with him. In the early 60s, they began to record songs that were not Acuff-Rose and dropped Rose as manager. He sued them for lack of earnings and refused to let Felice and Boudleaux Bryant give them any more songs. Don Everly took to writing songs under a pseudonym so that Rose could not seize them. Over the years, Rose became connected with many aspects of the industry and also served on various boards, including the Nashville Chamber Of Commerce, Vanderbilt Medical Centre, First American National Bank and Boy Scouts Of America. He was the first southern publisher elected to the board of ASCAP and also served as National President of NARAS. He was a founder member of the Country Music Association, being chairman of the organization on three different occasions, and he also served on the board of the Country Music Foundation. In 1986, he was elected to the Country Music Hall Of Fame, thus joining his father, who had been one of the first three entrants (with Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams) when the award was first created in 1961. He remained active with Acuff-Rose until the company was sold to Opryland USA in 1985. The highly respected Wesley Rose was once the most powerful man in Nashville’s music industry. He died in April 1990 in the Edgefield Hospital, Nashville, following a long illness. Mrs. Margaret Rose died in Nashville in late December 1990.