Fred Rose, a prime mover in Nashville’s rise as a music center, was born in Evansville, Indiana. Rose initially made his mark in Chicago as a pop songwriter, radio performer, and recording artist during the 1920s, when he penned such hits as “Red Hot Mama” for stars like Sophie Tucker. In 1933 he moved to Nashville radio station WSM and put down permanent roots in the city after marrying Nashvillian Lorene Dean in 1934.
Rose traveled to Chicago and New York during the mid-1930s, still pursuing pop songwriting success. His conversion to Christian Science around 1935 revitalized his personal and professional life amid the trying years of the Great Depression. Gradually Rose began to write songs with Grand Ole Opry acts, including the Vagabonds. Between 1938 and 1942 he lived in Hollywood and wrote hits like “Be Honest With Me” for “singing cowboy” film stars, primarily Gene Autry.
In 1942 Rose launched Acuff-Rose Publications, Nashville’s first country publishing house, with Grand Ole Opry kingpin Roy Acuff. Over the last twelve years of his life, Rose composed country classics like “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” edited songs written by his protégé Hank Williams (among many others), recruited rising songwriters like Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, produced recording sessions by Williams and other artists for MGM Records, scouted talent for other labels, and vigorously promoted Nashville and country music in general. Thus, Rose’s election to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 was well deserved.