Ronald C. “Ronnie” Gant, the music publishing visionary who pitched the song “Elvira” to The Oak Ridge Boys,  died January 4th at Centennial Medical Center in Nashville. He was 69.

The Nashville native and younger brother of singer and producer Don Gant worked for the Acuff-Rose music publishing company for 22 years.  While with Acuff-Rose and Opryland, he signed such writer-performers as Patty Loveless and Skip Ewing.

In his book American Journey: A Look Back Over 30 Years With the Oak Ridge Boys, the Oaks’ Joe Bonsall recalled how Gant helped launch the group’s spectacular career in country music:  “‘Elvira’ was the kind of music phenomenon that only comes around once in a great while, and it wasn’t even a new song.  Dallas Frazier, who wrote it, had a marginal hit with it in the early ’60s, and it had been recorded by several acts.   ” Ronnie Gant was in a bar in Texas and heard a house band sing the song when his wheels started to turn.  Acuff-Rose published the song, and he thought of the Oaks immediately.  The Boys had never cut anything like this, and he thought it could provide something a bit different.”

Gant is survived by his wife, Gale, daughter, Heather, and sons, Bret and Brian.