Atlanta was hardly a destination for recording artists until radio DJ Lowery laid the grooves for the hot-wax scene with his Lowery Music Company publishing house and his Southern Tracks recording studio. The native Louisianan—who got his start in the city as a disc jockey and Georgia Tech football game announcer—began recording and promoting artists in the early fifties. His catalog’s hits over the years included “Be-Bop-A-Lula” and “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden,” from artists such as Gene Vincent, Joe South, novelty songster Ray Stevens, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section. He was a two-time president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (which hands out the Grammys). In 1999, five years before his death, Lowery sold his 7,000-song catalog to Sony. Today his son, Butch, manages Bill Lowery Music and Southern Tracks studio, which in recent years has hosted recording sessions by Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, and Pearl Jam.
Double Play Lowery and Ray Charles were the first people inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame when it began in 1979; in 2004 they died within days of each other. Before that, Lowery coproduced the induction ceremonies for more than twenty years.
Rock of Ages Lowery married his Louisiana high school sweetheart, Billie, when he was twenty-two and she was nineteen; it wasn’t until after he died that his family discovered Lowery had lied on the marriage license—he had actually been seventeen when they tied the knot.