George Strait Mourns The Loss Of Longtime Manager and Friend, Erv Woolsey: ‘Won’t Ever Be The Same Without Him’

Woolsey. a respected member of the country music community, passed away on Wednesday morning.

By

Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

March 20, 2024

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Erv Woolsey and George Strait; Photo Courtesy of The Erv Woolsey Co.

George Strait’s longtime manager Eugene Ervine “Erv” Woolsey passed away on the morning of Wednesday, March 20, according to Strait’s publicist. Woosley was 80 years old. 

The iconic artist manager, record promo executive, and innovator died in Clearwater, Florida due to complications from surgery. He was under doctor’s care at the time of his death. 

Following Woosley’s passing, George Strait issued the following statement. 

“My manager for around 45 years and most importantly my friend for even longer, Erv Woolsey passed away this morning. He had complications from a surgery and just couldn’t overcome it. He was a very tough man, and fought hard, but sadly it was just too much. We will miss him so very much and will never forget all the time we had together. Won’t ever be the same without him.”

Mike Dungan, George Strait, Erv Woolsey and Louis Messina in 2012; Photo by Rick Diamond
Mike Dungan, George Strait, Erv Woolsey and Louis Messina in 2012; Photo by Rick Diamond

Woosley was born in Texas and based in Nashville and helped change the landscape of country music through his time working with artists such as Strait, Lee Ann Womack, Dierks Bentley, Clay Walker, and Ronnie Milsap. 

Born on February 15, 1944, in Houston, Texas, Woolsey dedicated his entire career to the music industry. Following his graduation from Southwest Texas State University in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in business, Woolsey entered the promotion department at Decca Records. Over the years, he held positions at various record labels before relocating to Nashville in 1973. There, he assumed the role of head of promotions for ABC Records’ newly-established Country division, where he played a pivotal role in shaping the careers of artists such as Johnny Rodriguez, Jimmy Buffett, Billy “Crash” Craddock, Donna Fargo, Freddy Fender, and the Amazing Rhythm Aces.

The course of Woolsey’s career changed when he had the chance to meet George Strait at The Prarie Rose, a club in San Marcos, Texas that owned with his then-wife Connie. He recognized something special in Strait and continued to book him to perform regularly at the club. 

Erv Woolsey Courtesy of Erv Woolsey Co

After his achievements at ABC, Woolsey embarked on a remarkable journey at MCA throughout the 1980s. He orchestrated consistent radio triumphs for iconic figures in country music, including Barbara Mandrell, Don Williams, Loretta Lynn, Tanya Tucker, Conway Twitty, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Lee Greenwood.

In 1981, Woolsey played an instrumental role in the signing of George Strait to MCA Records after convincing label head Jim Foglesong to sign him to a recording contract. This led to the release of Strait’s debut single, “Unwound.” MCA Records remains Strait’s label home to this day. 

In 1984, Woolsey departed from MCA to fully focus on managing George Strait. Together, they achieved numerous milestones, including Strait’s multiple Entertainer of the Year Awards spanning four decades. Their collaboration reached new heights with the release of the Jerry Weintraub-produced blockbuster film “Pure Country” in 1992, capturing Strait’s magnetic presence on screen. Additionally, their innovative George Strait Country Festival Tours, launched in 1995, demonstrated the genre’s ability to draw massive crowds reminiscent of the Rolling Stones. These tours featured acclaimed artists such as Alan Jackson, The Chicks, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney, Womack, and Asleep at the Wheel. 

Strait has maintained his legacy of stadium-filling performances. Despite stepping back from traditional tours, he continues to grace stages at select stadiums across the country each year. 

Woolsey was also a songwriter and served as a co-writer on Strait’s iconic No.1 hit, “I Can Still Make Cheyenne.” He also co-wrote “In Too Deep” on Strait’s 1985 release, Something Special. 

Alongside his business partner Steve Ford, Erv Woolsey developed several clubs/bars, including Nashville’s Losers, Winners, and the Dawg House. 

Erv Woolsey, Ian & Caroline Munsick, Allen Mitchell; Photo Courtesy of Warner Music Nashville
Erv Woolsey, Ian & Caroline Munsick, Allen Mitchell; Photo Courtesy of Warner Music Nashville

Most recently, he signed rising artists Ian Munsick, Davisson Brothers Band, Kylie Frey, Triston Marez, Nick Davisson, Zach Neil, Stone Senate, and Vince Herman. 

Woolsey was on the Board of Directors for the Country Music Association and the Tennessee Museum of History. As a passionate member of the horse racing community, Woolsey was also a Lifetime Member of the Texas Thoroughbred Association. 

He is survived by his son Clint, former wife Connie, brother David, and sister Beth. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Mavis Woolsey, and brother Johnny Woolsey.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.