b. 10 November 1908, Chicago, Illinois, USA, d. 1 April 1970. Cohen first became involved in the music industry when he worked for Columbia Records, but joined Decca Records in the early 30s. Initially, he worked as a salesman and a talent scout until, in 1944, he became Decca’s country artists and repertory director. He is credited as being the first producer to believe that Nashville had great potential as a recording centre for country artists. It the spring of 1945, with the full support of his Decca board, he recorded Red Foley in WSM’s Studio B to become the first producer to actually record a contracted artist, in Nashville, in modern times. He followed, in September that year, by recording Ernest Tubb. When, in 1946, two of WSM’s engineers, Aaron Shelton and Carl Jenkins, organized a commercial studio complex called Castle Recording Company, in the old Tulane Hotel, Cohen became the first producer to record artists there. Initially, he recorded Red Foley, Red Sovine and Kitty Wells but by the time he left Decca in 1958, he had also been instrumental in helping the careers of many of the label’s artists. He relocated to New York, where he formed his own Todd label and later ran both Kapp and ABC -Paramount. He was later President of the Country Music Association and, as such, performed the opening ceremony, on 31 March 1967, when the Country Music Hall Of Fame And Museum complex was officially opened. In 1970, Cohen died of cancer, but in 1976, his contribution to the genre saw him posthumously elected to membership of the Country Music Hall Of Fame. Although he always had a great eye for talent, he also proved he was human when, early in the artist’s career, he was once recording Buddy Holly and remarked to Owen Bradley ‘that Buddy Holly was the biggest no talent he had ever worked with’.
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