Jim Foglesong, a longtime Music City power broker who discovered some of the most important country acts of the past several decades, passed away Tuesday (July 9) in Nashville. He was 90 years old.

According to Nashville's Tennessean newspaper, Foglesong began his career in 1951, in a technical job for Columbia Records. He moved over into A&R for RCA Victor before moving to Nashville in 1970 to head up the A&R department at Dot Records, where he became president in 1973. When that label combined with ABC he presided over both labels, signing such keystone acts of that era as Barbara Mandrell, John Conlee, the Oak Ridge Boys and Don Williams.

Foglesong took over as the head of Capitol Nashville in 1985. There he signed a struggling young singer named Garth Brooks, who had been rejected by every other label in town. Brooks went on to become the best-selling country artist of all time.

"Country music lost its greatest diplomat for kindness, tolerance, faith, and sincerity," Brooks says in a statement to the Tennessean. "But do not weep for Jim, I have never met a man with a stronger faith. Anyone who knew Jim knows where he is now. Instead, weep for those of us who are left here without him ... truly a great, great man."

Foglesong was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2004. In more recent years he taught at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, finally retiring just last year.

Oak Ridge Boys singer Duane Allen says the group literally owed their career to the executive, who gave them a chance when no one else would.

"I have always called Jim Foglesong the gentle man of country music, and I separate gentle and man, it’s two words," he states. "He was the man. No other man even compares."