Revered Music Industry Vet Jeremy Tepper Passes Away at 60

The SiriusXM Outlaw Country Program Director Leaves Behind a Loving Family and a Lasting Legacy

The Americana and Outlaw Country world has once again been rocked by a sudden passing: the unexpected loss of Americana renaissance man Jeremy Tepper.

Tepper passed away June 14th of a heart attack at a hospital in New York City, leaving behind his wife, singer-songwriter Laura Cantrell, and their daughter Bella. Cantrell posted the heartbreaking news on her Instagram, Billboard reports. SiriusXM also took to its social media accounts to honor his incredible work and contributions to their brand and the music community at large.

Tepper arguably leaves behind one of the brightest and most respected legacies in alternative country and Americana music, one he began building early on his his career.

A monumental figure in the world of all things music and broadcast, the native New Yorker graduated from NYU with a degree in Journalism and went on to found the independent country label Diesel Only Records, according to Billboard. Tepper also held A&R and marketing positions for CDuctive and As a journalist, he served as managing editor of Vending Times, editor of The Journal of Country Music and as a country music critic for Tower Records’ Pulse! magazine. In front of the mic, Tepper led the band World Famous Blue Jays.

Tepper (L) with country icon Willie Nelson (C) and producer Buddy Cannon (R) in 2017 | photo by Jason Davis (Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Tepper’s role at SiriusXM catapulted him even further to music legend status. He was a true visionary who help lead the channel’s Outlaw Country station into ground-breaking territory by elevating alternative, independent, and also classic country music to new heights for a modern, global audience. His two-decade run with SiriusXM also found him working to successfully expand the Willie’s Roadhouse and Road Dog Trucking channels in addition to booking the annual Outlaw Country Cruise. Billboard also shared the story of how Tepper’s vast and all-consuming knowledge and passion for music made him the perfect and only choice to lead the Outlaw Country channel in the eyes of the channel’s creator and executive producer, famed actor and guitarist Steven Van Zandt.

In 2004, he joined Sirius as format manager of the radio giant’s Outlaw Country channel, which was created by Van Zandt, who served as its executive producer. A March 5, 2005 Billboard story on the origin of the Country Outlaw concept begins noting that Tepper was serving as DJ one night in March 2004 and as he was finishing with his customary closer, C.W. McCall’s “Convey,” Van Zandt “leaped up from his seat in the VIP lounge and walked over to Tepper, put his arm around him and muttered ‘You’re my guy.’ Tepper had no idea what Van Zandt was talking about” but the next day Tepper, who worked as a Sirius DJ for its Border concept, found himself in a meeting with Van Zandt and SiriusXM senior vp/GM of music programming Steve Blatter. It seems Sirius staffers couldn’t find the songs from Van Zandt’s “impossibly long list” to fuel his Outlaw Country concept, but Tepper, with a 50,000 title collection at home, said he had the songs Van Zandt wanted for the channel.

Tepper also worked tirelessly to champion his friends and his family of hosts on the network, many of whom have posted heartfelt tributes of gratitude in his memory.

Stevie Van Zandt | Guitarist, Actor, and Creator/Executive Producer of SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country

Tanya Tucker | Country Music Hall of Famer, Grammy-winning country icon

Buddy Miller | Grammy-winning Americana Singer-Songwriter, Co-host of The Buddy and Jim Show, SiriusXM Outlaw Country

Jim Lauderdale | Grammy-winning Americana Singer-Songwriter, Co-host of The Buddy and Jim Show, SiriusXM Outlaw Country

Elizabeth Cook | Americana Singer-Songwriter, Host of Apron Strings on Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country

Allison Moorer | Singer, songwriter and author

Sunny Sweeney | Americana singer-songwriter, host on SiriusXM’s Willie’s Roadhouse and Outlaw Country

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Tepper’s family, friends, and all who knew and loved him during this difficult time. Rest In Peace to a true champion of great music and its makers.