At age 21, when many young Americans, then and now, are concerned with passing grades in college, Bill Lowery was running his first radio station, kicking off a lifetime marriage to the music business. For several years, Lowery worked in major market radio, eventually coming to roost in Atlanta, where he worked with WGST and later with WQXI, known to many in the music field “Quicksie.”
During the early *50s, Lowery moved from broadcasting into full time record production and music publishing. Lowery Music Company became affiliated with Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) on October 1, 1952, and during its first 47 years the company has never stopped to look back. Lowery and his company had much to do with helping establish Atlanta as a prime creative center for American popular music.
Less than four years later, following several medium level song hits, the company scored with one of the major trailblazing smashes of early rock ‘n’ roll, Gene Vincent’s “Be Bop-A-Lula,” the firm’s first million seller for 1966 and a true classic in the making.
A music publisher’s success is simply a reflection of its catalog of song material and its writers. Lowery Music and its related publishing entities encompass virtually every separate sector of popular music. Its more than 5,000 titles include “Games People Play,” “Down in the Boondocks,” “Ahab the Arab,” “Key Largo,” “Traces,” “Stormy.” “Imaginary Lover,” “I Knew You When” and one of the biggest hits of them all, “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden,” Joe South’s great tune, recorded by Columbia’s Lynn Anderson.
In addition to South, a virtual who’s who of songwriters of musical Americana, were members of the Lowery Music stable. They included Mac Davis, Freddy Weller, Jerry Reed, Buddie Bute, Ray Stevens, J.R. Cobb, Tommy Roe, Razzy Bailey, Bill Anderson, Susan Hutcheson, Bertie Higgins, Steve Dorff and Alicia Bridges, among others. Virtually all were hit recording artists as well. And artists as diverse as Brenda Lee, Billy Joe Royal, the Classic our, The Atlanta Rhythm Section, Linda Ronstadt, Mick Jagger, Gloria Estefan, Wynonna, David Sanborn and Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops Orchestra have all recorded Lowery-published songs!
In addition to his music publishing activities, Lowery, now 73, has been a record company chief and a former President of NARAS, artist manager and one of the early independent record producers. In 1991, he was accorded the singular honor of induction into The Country Music Hall of Fame.
Lowery has also served as president of the Country Music Foundation, and has been a board member of the Country Music Association and the National Music Publishers Association. A Bill Lowery Scholarship Fund was established in 1977 at Georgia State University. Lowery also helped establish The Georgia Recording Commission in 1978, which later became a force in The Georgia Music Festival, now an annual event. When the Georgia Music Hall of Fame was established in 1978, Bill Lowery and Ray Charles (who recorded “Georgia on My Mind”) were recipients of the very first Georgies.
Years later, in 1996, the actual Georgia Music Hall of Fame was dedicated in Macon due to the long-term efforts of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Authority Board, of which Bill Lowery was a member, appointed by the then Georgia Governor, Zell Miller.