FORMER CAPITOL A&R EXECUTIVE KEN NELSON DIED AT AGE 96
Leo Jackson informed us that Ken Nelson, who
was born on January 19, 1911 in Caledonia, Minnesota, had died yesterday morning
(January 6). He was almost 97 years old. His daughter Claudia Nelson
reported he had not been ill prior to his death. At his request, he will
be cremated and there will be no memorial service.
Ken was for many years in charge of the A& R division of Capitol Records. He produced hits for Ferlin Husky. Buck Owens, Hank Thompson, Merle Haggard, and many more. Ken was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
A few years ago, Ken Nelson wrote a book about his life: "MY FIRST 90 YEARS Plus 3". There are a few stories about Jim Reeves too.
Faron Young got him, Jim Reeves, Don Gibson, Porter Wagoner, and other artists to invest in an oil well venture run by one of Faron's school friends. It turned out he was a con man. Ken lost a large sum of money, my guess is Jim did too.
That bad experience didn't keep him from joining Harold and Owen Bradley, Jim Reeves, and some others to invest in two oils wells of a company, owned and managed by an aspiring songwriter, Alexander Zanetis. This investment paid off handsomely, before the wells dried up.
Ken had signed Rod Morris, In October 1953 Rod recorded a self penned song "Bimbo," the name by which he called his baby boy. The music publisher was Styker and Rod had exclusivity of that song until Rod's record was released. While he was in the studio of KWKH, he saw an ABBOTT recording of that song, the publisher had apparently broken his word and at the end of the year Jim's recording was number One in the charts.
A short biography on CMT can be found here