Music Manager Looks Back On Career

Sunday, May 18th 2008, 6:35 pm
By: News On 6

The best singers in country music will be honored Sunday night at the Academy of Country Music Awards. One of the giants of the industry won't get a trophy, but he'll be watching as young stars shine in a business he helped pioneer.

Jim Halsey was once the head of the biggest country music management company on the planet. The News On 6's Rick Wells reports he hasn't retired, he's diversified.

You'd miss his place if you didn't have directions. Jim Halsey's office is in Mounds, it's like a museum, more than 50 years in the music business.

"These represent the artists we represented over the years when we had the big agency," said Halsey.

He specialized in country music, at one time, 42 acts and all of them stars.

"We had the cream of the crop, the biggest. The Judd's to Reba, Mel Tillis, Merle Haggard, Ronnie Milsap, Minnie Pearl, Roy Clark, Hank Thompson, Wanda Jackson and the Oakridge Boys," said Halsey.

And in the 70's and 80's those were the big, big stars; some still are. He sold the agency to William Morris in 1990, to give him the freedom to do other things, but he maintained his relationship with the Oakridge Boys.

"This year marks my 33rd year as manager of the Oakridge Boys," said Halsey.

They are like family he says, and despite not having a bona fide hit in years, the Oakridge Boys still draw big crowds.

The Oakridge Boys have maintained a long relationship with Oklahoma's Feed the Children organization. They do several Feed the Children TV specials each year.

He says they are unique in today's music business, a veteran act that tours regularly, 160 nights a year, still working to build new fans.

Halsey was asked if there are unique people out there still.

"I think there are, there's one little gal I've been watching, Taylor Swift, she's up for some awards this year," said Halsey.

He says she seems to understand what it takes to be successful. Last year on the ACM's she sang her hit "Tim McGraw" to Tim McGraw. Who by the way is another performer Jim Halsey really likes, he's country but has huge crossover appeal.

"I'm a big fan of Tim McGraw," said Halsey.

Halsey is now passing on some lessons learned, he's written a book called "How to Make It In The Music Business," and he's creating an online college course on the same subject.  

He's on endless boards and commissions, and still having fun in the business he loves as manager of the Oakridge Boys.           

"It's still fun for them, it's still fun for me, so that's why I still do it," said Halsey.

Halsey is the co-founder of the Billboard magazine song contest which is in its 15th year and he is also one of the judges for the "Gimme The Mike" contest which airs here on KOTV on Monday nights beginning July 7th.