Ralph Peer was a recording executive, archetypal A&R man and music publisher whose career spanned the years 1919 – 1960.
As a recording executive, Peer spearheaded the U.S. recording industry’s shift toward American roots music, overseeing the landmark 1927 session that launched the careers of both the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, while essentially creating the country and “race music” markets that continue to flourish today.
He developed innovative regional artists and their repertoire, making it accessible on both the national and international stage. Peer was the executive producer who oversaw the blues record that sparked the genre (Mamie Smith’s “Crazy Blues”), recorded the first blues record with guitar accompaniment (Sara Martin and Sylvester Weaver’s “Longing For Daddy Blues”) and released the first country record (Fiddlin’ John Carson’s “The Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane”).
Peer founded his publishing company, Southern Music, now known as peermusic, in 1928 to promote and license additional usages of his composers’ copyrighted songs.
Peer published popular hits like “You Are My Sunshine,” Latin hits such as “Besame Mucho” and “Perfidia,” as well as rock ‘n’ roll hits by Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison.
Seventeen recordings produced by Ralph S. Peer, as well as 34 additional recordings of songs he published, have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.