Thursday, April 25, 2024

Frances Preston, Beloved Long Time Head of BMI Music, Passes Away


I can’t always say this, but I am trulyheartbroken to report the passing of Franees Preston, former head of BMI  the music licensing giant. Cause of death was congestive heart failure. I just found out Frances was 83– well it was 83 years young. She didn’t look it and she didn’t act it. And when I say beloved, I mean it. What a truly classy, elegant, beautiful, smart lady. She cared about music and musicians. She loved people. There will most certainly be a toast to her tomorrow night at the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  That makes three dynamic women and friends in the music business lost in the last year: Sunny Ralfini, Barbara Orbison, and now Frances. Too young, no matter how old. What a loss!

Linda Moran sent out this message today from the SHOF:

Dear Friends,

As I am sure you have all heard by now……..On the day before the penultimate salute to the songwriter, we lost one of the best friends a songwriter ever had …..the divine Frances W. Preston.

Frances was so very special to most of us on the board and in the songwriting community that I do not feel I have to go on to list all of her professional achievements, other than to say that we were all so fortunate to have had her in our lives, personally and professionally, and she will be missed more than words can say.

Her spirit will live on and I am sure we will feel it tomorrow night …….. Frances always did love a good time, especially when it meant spending time with good friends and celebrating songwriters!

Please take a moment to see the tribute to Frances on the BMI website:

Warmest regards,


Here’s a remembrance from

Preston spent six decades at BMI, serving as the org’s President/CEO from 1986 until 2004. Hired in 1958 to open a Southern regional office for BMI in Nashville, Preston was appointed VP in 1964, making her the first female corporate executive in Tennessee, as well as the first fulltime PRO rep in the South. She helped build an economic infrastructure to support and connect the creative and commercial sectors in Nashville, helping to pave the way for the city’s future as a songwriting hub. In 1985, she rose to SVP Performing Rights, and the following year she was named President and CEO, bring her to BMI’s headquarters in New York. Kris Kristofferson dubbed Preston the “songwriter’s guardian angel,” and Fortune called her “one of the true powerhouses of the pop music business.” She’s survived by her three sons, Kirk, David and Donald, as well as six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. We’ll never forget her announcing an award for Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin'” at a BMI bash several years ago. She will be missed.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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