All Photos: Alan Mercer
Larry Ferguson is a native of Louisville Kentucky. As an only child he grew up loving music and television. At three years of age he fell in love with Dolly Parton. By the time he was a young teen he was modeling for Alix Adams Agency. He also co-hosted ‘Louisville Tonight Live’ while still in High school.
As a teenager he helped local concert promoters promote country music and gospel music shows. At 18 he started his own concert promotions company, Larry Ferguson Promotions.
A dream came true when his other lifetime love, the legendary singer/songwriter Dottie Rambo asked him to manage her. At this time he moved to Nashville. There he launched a major, successful comeback for Dottie. He authored the book, ‘Driving Ms. Dottie’ about his life on the road with her.
He co-created and was one of the producers for a 2 hour concert television special ‘We Shall Behold Him,’ hosted by Barbara Mandrell and featuring Crystal Gayle, Larry Gatlin, Barbara Fairchild, Dolly Parton and many others. The special was nominated for an NRB award.
Larry and Dottie were like family and he managed her until a 2008 concert tour bus crash killed Dottie and left him broken up physically and mentally.
As a music producer he has produced many artists including, Carol Channing, Dolly Parton, George Jones, Little Richard, Patti Page, Lynn Anderson, Ricky Skaggs, Mamie Van Doren, Lily Tomlin, Joe Diffie, Solomon Burke, Tanya Tucker just to name a few.
Tentatively scheduled in 2016 is a musical CD tribute to Dottie Rambo with 30 artists and 18 songs written by the legendary songwriter. This summer he starts airing his new internet talk show, ‘Mr. Nashville Talks.’
Larry is a single father of two boys Christian, 16 and Pierce, 11.
AM: Larry, let’s start with the obvious. How did you get the moniker of “Mr. Nashville?”
LF: Actually this story has two extremes. I was in New York for a meeting and I got to meet Joan Rivers. She kept calling me “Nashville” and then she started calling me Mr. Nashville and heckling me a little bit. That was the first time. Even people on the street in New York called me Nashville because of my accent. Then I met Sarah Palin at a reception and she started calling me Mr. Nashville. Then I saw her again some time later and she remembered me and called me Mr. Nashville again.
AM: You are a memorable person Larry. Nobody is going to forget you!
LF: That’s probably a bad thing.
AM: No, quite the opposite. So how did you decide to make the name stick?
LF: Originally I was going to do a radio show and everything was set to go but then they started wanting to control everything like what guests I would have so there was no way I wanted to do that.
AM: That would not have been fun.
LF: I started a web site then and started posting news items about Country music and Nashville legends from a Nashville perspective.
AM: So you are covering all types of entertainment from a Nashville point of view?
LF: Right, the people don’t have to be from Nashville at all. I am the Nashville part. I want to feature people that I miss seeing and hearing about. These are artists who are still making great music or doing theater. People still have an interest in these artists but since they are no longer on TV regularly people don’t know what they are doing.
AM: What do you think about the current status of celebrity?
LF: There are no stars anymore. Everyone is a celebrity, but no stars.
AM: We are losing the legends left and right and we’re not creating new ones.
LF: There’s no Hollywood glamour anymore. On rare occasions there is still a hint of it. The Oscars looked like an upscale prom.
AM: Do you think your internet show will ever be on TV?
LF: I hope it is. I’ve had a few people tell me they would love to air it, but I want to make sure that I won’t get into the same situation like the radio show. I have to own the show and control it.
AM: You’ve started taping several segments already so you’re on your way.
LF: Yes, I’d like to maybe make a television special out of this. Eventually I would love to have a weekly series. I love to just sit down and talk. I miss shows like that. I miss Dick Cavett and Phil Donahue. Basically I’m filling a role that somebody else should already be doing.
AM: What makes you the right person for this job?
LF: I like to talk and I DO listen. That’s missing from a talk show perspective.
AM: You are not just talking to people that a publicist threw in front of you. Your heart is involved from the beginning. That’s what’s missing from talk shows now.
LF: Exactly, now talk show hosts are basically actors. Everything is done behind the scenes by fifteen to twenty people involved.
AM: There are no genuine conversations anymore.
LF: I don’t have to do all this research because I know who these people are.
LF: What do you do differently to get an interesting conversation going?
LF: I try to bring up subjects that haven’t been talked about as much. This way the person I am talking to isn’t bored by the same old questions.
AM: Who would your dream guests be for ‘Mr. Nashville?’
LF: Of course Dolly Parton would be my number one choice. I’ve worked with her a lot. She is my ultimate.
AM: You’ve had a working relationship with Dolly for years.
LF: Yes, I’ve been very fortunate. I worked with Dolly a lot when I managed Dottie Rambo. She’s been a great friend who has been very good to me. She sang on a few records that I have produced. When Dottie died, Dolly brought me to Dollywood and we planted a rose in Dottie’s honor. She gave me this beautiful vase made of hand blown glass that had peacock feathers painted on it. The wonderful thing is Dottie collected peacock art so it felt like it was meant to be.
AM: What about some TV people?
LF: I want to get Marla Gibbs so bad. I love her. I grew up with her.
AM: The young people don’t even know who any of these people are.
LF: You know what Alan, I have discovered that if the information is out there the younger audience does discover and appreciate these older talents. They just never see them so they haven’t discovered them yet.
To learn more about Larry visit his web site