Jeremy Tepper Dies: Program Director Of SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country Was 60

Jeremy Tepper, who helped grow so-called “outlaw” country music into an industry force, died Friday night of a heart attack in Jackson Heights, New York. He was 60.

“I am heartbroken to share the news of the passing of my husband, Jeremy Tepper, who died suddenly today of a heart attack here in Jackson Heights,” said a post from his wife, Laura Cantrell, on Facebook. “Jeremy was an amazing, unique person, a loving father, son, brother, and friend who was close with so many of you, especially his many friends in the music world. We will share more soon about plans to celebrate his life, but we are devastated by this unimaginable loss and ask for privacy and time to grieve.

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Tepper was the program director for SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country channel since 2004, and also helmed the Willie Nelson-centric “Willie’s Roadhouse” and the “Road Dog Trucking” channel, devoted to that industry.

Tepper was a key outlet for many artists in independent country and Americana. As part of that, he was the curator who also helped book and organize the annual Outlaw Country Cruise.

He fronted a band called the World Famous Blue Jays, and in 1990, founded the record label Diesel Only Records in Brooklyn, New York. The label sought to was to revitalize and maintain 45’s for truck stop juke boxes, compilations of truck driving songs, and giving a label home to the country subgenre.

The label is known a 1996 compilation Big Rig Deluxe, that included songs by Marty Stuart, Buck Owens, and Steve Earle. Dale Watson, Ween, and Amy Allison also released albums on the label, as did Laura Cantrell, who Tepper would marry in 1997.

During this time, Jeremy Tepper also worked as a journalist, working as the managing editor of Vending Times, and later the jukebox trade journal Street Beat. He also worked as an editor for the Journal of Country Music and a country writer for Pulse! and, which was an early MP3 distributor.

He was brought to SiriusXM by actor/musician Steven Van Zandt, who started the XM Outlaw Country Channel in 2001. As “DJ RigRocker,” Tepper hosted the 6 a.m. to noon shift, then took over the channel in 2004.

Besides his wife, Tepper is also survived by his daughter, Bella.

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