Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Friends remember Georgia music legend John L “Johnny” Carson
Georgia music industry members, friends and family of Georgia Music Hall of Fame member John L Carson, 77, gathered July 31 in Decatur, Ga. to celebrate his life.
Chaplain Danny Roland officiated and Randall Franks gave the eulogy.
Carson died July 27, 2010 at an Atlanta area hospital after suffering a heart attack and fall.
Carson combined his musical pedigree, talent and love of people to pioneer a career in Georgia's music industry. He was also a member of the Carolinas Country, Bluegrass and Gospel Hall of Fame and their Legend Award winner.
He was the grandson of the late Fiddlin' John Carson, who gave him his first fiddle at the age of 10 and the nephew of the late RCA recording artist, “Moonshine Kate” Carson.
He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2009 receiving the Mary Tallent Pioneer Award, thus becoming the second member of his family alongside his grandfather. His cousin John R. Carson is a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. The Atlanta, Ga. native from Cabbagetown began his journey through the music industry by booking bands at the age of 15.
He was a graduate of Roosevelt High School in Atlanta, where excelled in many sports, however his records in track and cross-country were not broken until the 1980's.
According to family members, the Atlanta Journal called him the greatest athlete to wear the Crimson Tide colors. He also attended the University of Georgia, Atlanta Division; Georgia State College; Georgia State University, and Atlanta Law School.
Throughout his wide-ranging career, he managed, promoted, produced, showcased and paid tribute to hundreds of country, bluegrass, gospel and western musicians.
He served in the U. S. Army in Korea.
As a music business entrepreneur with his partner Phyllis Cole, he founded Fiddlin’ John Carson Productions in 1970, including publishing companies - Fiddlin’ John Carson Publishers and Fid John Carson Publishers, show productions, management and record companies eventually bringing all the businesses under Cradle of Country Music Productions.
He and Cole founded the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame in 1982 honoring over a thousand people who have impacted the Atlanta and Georgia music scene over the last 28 years.
He also founded the Atlanta Country Music Academy in 1986 in Cabbagetown with the focus of educated young singers at no cost. He served as Co-Director of the Atlanta Society of Entertainers since 1994 and also served on the board of Friends of Georgia Music Festival board member for many years.
In addition to his music career, he and Cole also formed the International Association of Security Guards in 1976, in order to give security personnel proper training. He coordinated this organization for several years.
Among the many artists’ careers his and Cole’s efforts impacted are American Idol runner-up and Broadway actress Diana DeGarmo, Country singers Mark Wills and Daron Norwood and Appalachian music and Television star Randall Franks, “Officer Randy Goode” from TV’s “In the Heat of the Night.”
“Johnny encouraged so many of us,” Franks said. “He advised, created opportunities, brought attention to our careers, taught, and preserved history, but mostly he was a friend through the ups and downs of pursuing a mainstream entertainment career who cheered us on. Georgia music just lost one of its greatest promoters and all of us just lost a true friend.”
He managed the country-rock group the Generals and produced shows with some of the biggest names in pop, country and rock music.
According to Fiddlin’ John Carson Productions, as a philanthropist, he has help raise over $2 million for various charities.
Carson’s Home going service included performances by Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina performers Lorraine Parker, Joey Stuckey, Danny Roland, Randall Franks, Rick Smith, Mitzie Gardner, J. Max and Teena McKee, Jerry and Helen Burke, Dean Marsh and Cotton Evans.
Phyllis Cole gave a tribute to Johnny and invited others to do the same. Many of the attendees gave brief tributes as well.
"As Johnny would say, it was a packed house," Phyllis said.
He was interred in a private ceremony at Melwood Cemetery in Stone Mountain, Ga.
Donations in Carson's memory may be made to the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame, 4051 Seven Hills Court, Stone Mountain, GA. 30083