Alton “Al” Embry, long-time manager, agent and talent promoter of some of the biggest names in the entertainment business, died Monday, September 9, 2019, at his Old Hickory, Tennessee, home at 82 of natural causes.
Born in Butler County, Kentucky on August 19, 1937, Al Embry began his career in the music business in the 60s working as a liaison in securing entertainment industry photo coverage opportunities for the popular national publication, Look Magazine. Embry’s interaction with artists led him to meet music sensation of the day, Jerry Lee Lewis in the mid-60s. That meeting turned into what would become a decades long working relationship. Traveling the world with Lewis, he met virtually all the top name performers of the era across the platforms of Rock & Roll, Rockabilly, R & B, and Country, many whom would subsequently become his clients in the years to come. Beginning his career as a talent booking agent in Nashville with the Hubert Long International Agency on Music Row, he ultimately rose to become Vice President, handling the careers of the agency’s roster of major country artists including George Jones, Tammy Wynette, The Statler Brothers, and Merle Haggard.
In 1975, Embry decided to chart his own independent course in Nashville with the launch of Al Embry International. Throughout his illustrious career, he was noted for helping discover new talent and grow existing careers in virtually every genre of music. Embry began booking a startup band Wild Country shortly after launching the agency and that group went on to become known as the multi-award-winning mega-group ALABAMA. Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, and Chubby Checker were among his top artist clients.
Embry dove into the television side of the business and executive produced the much-anticipated Fats Domino and Friends HBO special, which was a first Cinemax session, with guests Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ron Wood of The Rolling Stones, and Paul Shaffer. This specific show won Embry his first Cable ACE award. Booking the “Fight Night for Children” concert series, Al Embry’s production abilities produced successful events for a long list of top mainstream and country names such as the Charlie Daniels Band, Joan Jett, Lenny Kravitz and Grand Funk Railroad.
In recent years, he had continued to work even in retirement and enjoyed an ongoing hand with wife Tracy in the career of longtime friend and client, Mickey Gilley. He remained an active member of entertainment trade organizations CMA, ACM, IEBA, NATD, and IAFE.
Embry is survived by his loving wife of 34 years Tracy Embry, sister Brenda (Dale) Stanley, sister Veneda (Richard) Pickard, brother JR “Audley” (Natalie) Embry, sister Vickylynn Martinez, sister-in-law LaNora Gaylord, son Wayne (Kathryn) Embry, son Tony (Deborah) Embry, daughter Tammy (Ronnie) Fie, grandson JR Embry, grandson Michael Embry, grandson Scott Embry (Vantha), granddaughter Akeysha Embry, great grandson DJ Devilla, great granddaughter Caitlin Embry, great grandson Andy Embry, and great granddaughter Ellie Embry.
For visitation and funeral information, please contact Hermitage Funeral Home & Memorial Gardens. 555 Shute Ln, Old Hickory, TN 37138. 1-615-889-0361.