Industry Executive Jeff Walker Passes

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• August 26, 2015
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Jeff Walker

Jeff Walker, CEO/President of The AristoMedia Group/Marco Music Group, has passed away. He died suddenly Monday night, Aug. 24, 2015. He was 65.

Walker was a talented entrepreneur who was at the forefront of advancements in marketing within the country music industry. During 35 years of leading his own company, he made significant contributions to the growth and development of Music Row.

An Australia native, Walker is the son of Bill Walker, a noted musical director and arranger who worked on the Johnny Cash Show, and with countless country stars from the 1960s through 1980s.

Jeff Walker graduated from Australia’s Sydney University, where he earned a degree in Economics with a major in Accounting & Law. He moved to Nashville in 1974 and took a job working for Price Waterhouse accounting firm and then later transitioned to Con Brio Records.

In April 1980 he formed the marketing and promotions firm Aristo Music Associates, Inc. Over the next three-and-a-half decades the business grew to encompass divisions offering publicity, web development, radio promotion, video promotion, and label/distribution services.

Walker served on the Country Radio Broadcasters Board for 35 consecutive years and was currently the Treasurer of the organization. He was also a longtime member of the Country Music Association Board of Directors.

Throughout his career, he was an advocate of expanding country music’s international reach. His work was celebrated with honors including the CMA President’s Award, CMA Jo Walker Meador International Award, CMAA (Australia) Lifetime Achievement Award, BCMA (UK) International Services Award, CCMA (Canada) Leonard T. Rambeau International Support Award, Operation Troop Aid Certification of Appointment and others.

Rick KellyVP Radio Marketing for Marco Music Group, says, “Jeff was well known and beloved in the Nashville music industry for his humor, his boundless energy, and his tireless devotion to expanding the reach of country music.”

“Jeff Walker was one of my very best friends for over 30 years,” says MusicRow magazine founder David M. Ross. “We had a special bond which I will always treasure. He loved to make jokes and flash a warm smile, but he was also so serious in how he loved and supported his family, friends, the Music Row industry and country’s international community. He’s left us way too soon, way too soon.”

Mayor Karl Dean said, “Jeff Walker played an important role in spreading country music overseas and bringing country music talent from other countries to perform in Nashville. His zeal for growing country music’s appeal around the globe made him an integral part of our Sister Cities program. In particular, Jeff helped develop our partnership with Tamworth, the Country Music Capital of Australia, and nurture our relationship with Edmonton, which also has strong music ties to Nashville. I know our friends from Edmonton were looking forward to seeing Jeff this weekend during their visit and his absence will be deeply felt. With Anne, I extend our deepest condolences. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Walker is survived by father Bill and stepmother Jeanine, wife Terri, daughter Christy Walker Watkins and her husband Matt Watkins, son Jon Walker and his wife Tessa, and granddaughters Lucy and Elle.

The visitation and funeral took place Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, at First Baptist Church Nashville (108 7th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37203).

Jeff Walker and family on May 30, 2015, celebrating at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's Nashville Cats: A Salute to Bill Walker. — with Terri Walker, Tessa Walker, Jeanine Walker, Jon Walker, Matt Watkins and Christy Walker-Watkins.

Jeff Walker and family on May 30, 2015, celebrating the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum program Nashville Cats: A Salute to Bill Walker. (L-R): back row: Jeff Walker, Terri Walker, Christy Walker Watkins, Matt Watkins, Tessa Walker, Jon Walker. Seated: Jeanine Walker and Bill Walker.

Pictured (L to R): Jeff Walker was presented with the 2015 President’s Award by CRS Board President, Charlie Morgan during the Country Radio Hall of Fame awards, held at the Omni Hotel in Nashville, Tenn on June 24, 2015. Photo Credit: Kristen England

Jeff Walker (L) was presented with the 2015 President’s Award by CRS Board President Charlie Morgan (R) during the Country Radio Hall of Fame awards, held at the Omni Hotel in Nashville on June 24, 2015. Photo: Kristen England

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About the Author

Sherod Robertson is President and Owner of MusicRow Enterprises. He oversees all operations and develops strategic initiatives for MusicRow magazine, RowFax, and MusicRow's CountryBreakout chart. Robertson previously served as Director of Finance of Arista Records after beginning his career as Vice President of Finance and CFO at Reunion Records.

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