Chauncey ‘Chick’ Crumpacker, Producer & Exec Who Brought Elvis Presley to RCA Victor, Dies at 91


Chauncey "Chick" Crumpacker, a three-time grammy-nominated producer and executive for RCA Victor who brought Elvis Presley to the label, died on Tuesday. He was 91. 

Born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, Crumpacker's career in music began in 1953 in RCA Victor's A&R department shortly after moving to New York City. During his time in A&R, he played a key role in bringing Presley to the label from Sun Records and then toured and traveled with the iconic rocker. He also tried to bring Johnny Cash to the label, but was ultimately unsuccessful after the label failed to support the move. 

Crumpacker stayed with RCA for 57 years, eventually moving into producing, working with a wide range of artists including Chet Atkins, Mala Powers, Morgana King, Harry Nilsson, Eartha Kitt and Harry Belafonte. Highlights of his time in the recording industry, according to his daughter Caroline, include socializing with Atkins and hearing Leonard Bernstein perform the West Side Story score on a piano in his Manhattan apartment for RCA scouts and executives. (Crumpacker also tried, unsuccessfully, to lobby RCA executives to take on the musical.)

Crumpacker also wrote liner notes for many records at RCA and spent many of his last years in the label's archive, cataloging and researching. He was nominated for three Grammy awards: best album notes for The Mario Lanza Collection, best historical reissue album for First Edition/The Golden Age of Broadway and best historical reissue One Never Knows, Do One? The Best of Fats Waller. With his wife, Bunny, Crumpacker co-authored a comprehensive book/CD combination entitled Jazz Greats (Peregrine Smith, 1995).

After 50 years of working at RCA, Crumpacker received a plaque from the company reading, "78s, 45s, LPs, 8 Tracks, Cassettes, Compact Disks and DVDs. You've been a part of the greatest sound developments of the 20th century. Producer, Promoter, Author, A&R Executive, Composer and Archivist. Your Talent knows no bounds. Knowing you is a pleasure. Working with you is a dream come true. Thanks for making history."

Crumpacker was also a lifetime activist, collector of first-edition books and a writer of music reviews and political letters for The Journal News in Rockland County, New York. As well, he composed an opera and numerous shorter pieces. 

Crumpacker passed away in his sleep, from natural causes. He is survived by his three children: Catherine Wolz of Virginia, Caroline Crumpacker of Red Hook, New York, and Charles Crumpacker of San Francisco; his two sons-in-law Michael Wolz and Roberto Rossi; his granddaughter Colette Crumpacker O'Malley; and his sister-in-law June Alexander, nephew David Alexander, niece Netta Jacobi and their child Michael, all living in Israel. His wife and partner of nearly 50 years, Bunny Crumpacker, passed away in 2010.

There are no immediate plans for a memorial. The family asks gifts be made in his name to the American Civil Liberties Union.