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Larry Butler, Grammy-Winning Country Producer, Dead at 69

Larry Butler, the Grammy-winning producer behind some of Kenny Rogers‘ most memorable hits, including the 1978 classic ‘The Gambler,’ died yesterday (Jan. 20) at his home in Pensacola, Fla., The Tennessean reports. He was 69.

In a remarkable career that spanned roughly a half-century, Larry collaborated with numerous country legends, among them Loretta Lynn, Charlie Rich, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. The Florida native got his start as a DJ and session pianist in the early ’60s before settling in Nashville to work as an in-house producer for Capitol Records.

In 1973, following a stint with CBS Records, Larry became the head of the Nashville division of United Artists Records. There, he signed Kenny and began a partnership that would yield such hits as ‘The Gambler’ and ‘Lucille.’ In 1980, in recognition of his work on Kenny’s album ‘Gideon,’ he won the Grammy for Producer of the Year — a prize no other country producer has ever won.

Larry went on to form his own production company, and in recent years, he focused on writing songs and mentoring young artists.

“With Larry, everything that happened in the studio had to be tested out,” country singer Billy Dean told the Tennessean. “And he was testing it out not in a technical way, but in an emotional way. If it won out emotionally, it stayed. He always led with his heart.”

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