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Pioneering Music Industry Executive Bonnie Garner To Be Honored At Fourth Annual Louise Scruggs Memorial Forum Presented By The Gibson Foundation And The Country Music Hall Of Fame&Reg; And Museum

11.01.2010

Garner's In-Depth Forum Interview to Include Photos, Film Footage and Audio Recordings Culled from the Museum's Archive and Other Sources

Country Music Hall of Fame and Gibson Foundation

NASHVILLE, TN, November 1, 2010 — In memory of Louise Scruggs, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum will present an in-depth interview honoring visionary music industry executive Bonnie Garner on Tuesday, November 16, at 6 p.m. in the Ford Theater. The forum is free and open to the public.

The Louise Scruggs Memorial Forum, made possible by the Gibson Foundation, was established in 2007 to honor music industry leaders who can be seen as the legatees of Scruggs, the wife of Country Music Hall of Fame member Earl Scruggs and the first woman in country music to take on roles as a booker and manager. Honorees are chosen by representatives of both the Gibson Foundation and the Museum and receive final approval from the Scruggs family.

Setting new professional standards in artist management, Louise Certain Scruggs played a key role in bringing the music of Flatt & Scruggs and the Earl Scruggs Revue to audiences well beyond the traditional country norm—a role she relished until her death in 2006. A doting wife and mother accomplished in the domestic arts and as beautiful and well-dressed as any film star, Scruggs was known for her knowledge of music and music trends, and better known for the formidable business acumen that helped her open or close doors in the best interests of her husband and sons. On September 30, 2010, she was inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

The forum interview with Garner, whose multi-faceted career has included concert promotion, record label A&R and artist management, is hosted by Museum Writer/Editor Michael McCall, who will track Garner's career story and invite her memories of the artists, songs, issues, opportunities and challenges she has met throughout a distinguished career spanning more than 40 years. The interview will be illustrated with recordings, film clips and photos from the Museum's archives, Garner's personal collection and other sources.

Bonnie Garner

Born in Milwaukee and raised in Illinois, Bonnie Garner began her storied career in the entertainment industry as a talent booker for legendary and often controversial television shows. After graduating from Southern Illinois University with a degree in communications, Garner moved to Chicago. She took a job at the Conrad Hilton, then moved on to work for Playboy Press and at the Playboy Mansion, as a member of Hugh Hefner's staff. After a brief stint in San Francisco working at Enrico Banducci's club Hungry I, Garner moved to Los Angeles and joined Hefner's Playboy after Dark syndicated television show as a talent coordinator. Among the artists she was responsible for booking were Joe Cocker, the Grateful Dead, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Ike and Tina Turner. Transitioning to daytime programming, Garner relocated to New York to take a similar position at ABC-TV's Dick Cavett Show. As program coordinator, she was responsible for bringing several cutting edge guests into the show mix, including Black Panther leader Donald Cox, Delaney and Bonnie, Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, Janis Joplin and Frank Zappa.

When legendary concert promoter Bill Graham appeared on Cavett's show, Garner worked with Graham's New York-based executive assistant, Dale Franklin. She persuaded Garner to take a job at Graham's Fillmore East concert hall. Garner worked there for nearly a year & mdash; leaving just months prior to Graham's much-publicized 1971 disenchantment with the live music scene, which resulted in him shuttering both the Fillmore West and Fillmore East.

Kip Cohen, who had worked with Garner during her days at the Fillmore East, invited Garner to join his A&R staff at Columbia Records, making her the only female A&R executive in the label's pop department. During her tenure there, she worked with Eric Andersen, Delaney & Bonnie, Dan Fogelberg, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and many others.

In the 1970s, Nashville was becoming a popular recording hub for numerous pop artists, and Garner accepted the challenge of moving south and setting up Columbia and Epic Records' first Nashville pop division, in 1973, with a roster including Fogelberg, John Hiatt, Tracy Nelson and others. Garner later joined the labels' country division as director of A& R. In 1984, she was promoted to vice president of A&R, the first woman to attain that position at CBS Records and one of the few to do so in the entire music industry.

In 1987, Garner left CBS Records and later was persuaded to join industry veteran Mark Rothbaum in his management company. Garner headed the Nashville office of Connecticut-based Mark Rothbaum and Associates, and together Rothbaum and Garner managed the careers of Emmylou Harris, the Highwaymen, Kris Kristofferson, Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, the O'Kanes and Marty Stuart. The company became Rothbaum & Garner in 1989. During this time she also served as tour manager for the Highwaymen—the supergroup formed by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kristofferson and Nelson—on their U.S., Pacific Rim and European tours.

When Garner and Rothbaum decided to split amicably in 1994, she formed Bonnie Garner Management. The company roster included Lynn Anderson, Bonnie Bramlett, Andy Griggs, Lee Roy Parnell, Stuart and Joy Lynn White. In 2002, with Mary Martin and Luke Lewis, Garner received a Grammy Award for co-producing Timeless, a tribute to Hank Williams.

Garner retired from the music industry in 2007, devoting much of her free time to indulging her lifelong passion of working with animals. In November 2009, she received her instructor's certification from NARHA, and she now teaches therapeutic riding at Saddle Up! She is a consulting business manager for Canine Inc. and is active in animal rescue. She also serves on the boards of Kids on Stage and the Tennessee Animal Resource Center.

In Keeping

"We had the great pleasure of first working with Bonnie on our Anniversary Special album in 1975," said Earl Scruggs. "She and Louise quickly became good friends and they had a deep respect for each other's professional abilities. Bonnie always struck me as being similar to Louise in that she not only took care of her artists from a business standpoint, but she also enjoyed being a fan as well. (Our sons) Gary, Randy, and I know Louise would be very pleased that Bonnie is being recognized and honored in this year's Memorial Forum."

"It is very appropriate that we undertake this fourth annual salute to Louise Scruggs with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum," says Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar. "Louise's attention to detail and strong commitment to her family's music is very much in keeping with the Museum's mission and the Gibson Foundation's goal of advancing education for music and the arts, and I can think of no more fitting recipient than Bonnie Garner, whose efforts have broadened and heightened the profile of the country music industry."

Museum Director Kyle Young added, "Louise believed in an open-ended and broad-minded approach to country music. Like Louise, Bonnie has never believed in limits for herself or for the music and musicians she has championed for a lifetime. We are very glad to welcome her as the 2010 Louise Scruggs honoree."

Founded in 2002 as the philanthropic division of Gibson Guitar, the Gibson Foundation is committed to making the world a better place for children worldwide through its own initiatives and by its support of other non-profit organizations that advance music and the arts, health and welfare, education and environmental causes. For more information, please visit www.gibsonfoundation.org or www.gibson.com.

These programs are made possible, in part, by grants from the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and by an agreement between the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The Museum's mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the Foundation also operates CMF Records, the Museum's Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B and Hatch Show Print®.

More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is available at www.countrymusichalloffame.org or by calling (615) 416-2001.

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