Tandy Rice was a bigger-than-life personality and his accomplishments since his Citadel graduation in 1961 are worthy of remembering.
Tandy C. Rice, Jr., age 76, of Nashville, Tenn., a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, died Aug. 3 at a Nashville hospital. Rice received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English at The Citadel in 1961 and served in the U.S. Air Force prior to embarking upon a remarkable career in the country music industry. As CEO of Top Billing, Inc., Rice rose to become the president of the Country Music Association (CMA) as well as agent to a “Who’s Who” of Nashville entertainment stars.
Rice was instrumental in the rise of Dolly Parton’s career, the promotion of Tom T. Hall, Jim Ed Brown, Waylon Jennings, Porter Waggoner and dozens of others. Famously, he represented comedian Jerry Clower on a handshake agreement for 32 years — until Clower’s death in 1998. In 1978, it was Rice who promoted “Billy Beer” and boosted Billy Carter to earn more money than his brother, Jimmy Carter, president of the United States at the time. Rice’s cousin Minnie Pearl (1912-1996) encouraged him to use his robust personality in the country music industry. A Franklin, Tenn., native, Rice helped persuade more than 200 cadets to attend The Citadel from central Tennessee. He loved The Citadel and made more than 60 trips to Charleston as a keynote speaker, board advisor and mentoring resource. The Citadel presented him with an honorary degree in 2008.
He is in the International Entertainment and Nashville Association of Talent Directors Halls of Fame, and he served twice as a judge in the Miss America pageant.
He hosted the No. 1 morning talk show in Nashville for nearly 30 years and raised millions of dollars for the United Cerebral Palsy cause. He also was active with Boy Scouts and led the effort for the Country Music Retirement Home project in Nashville. The Rice Scholarship at The Citadel has been instrumental in the education of more than 40 cadets.