The industry veteran died from respiratory failure in Nashville, Tennessee on Monday (03Aug15).

Rice began his career as a publicist in the entertainment business in 1963, when he convinced TV network bosses to air singer Porter Wagoner's namesake variety programme, The Porter Wagoner Show, on which Parton first found fame in 1967.

He later moved on to work as a talent booker at the Top Billing agency, to which Parton was signed, where he ended up turning flamboyant funnyman Clower into a big concert draw.

While at the agency, he also worked with Jim Ed Brown, Tom T. Hall and Jeannie C. Riley, and later guided the short-lived music careers of U.S. President Jimmy Carter's younger brother, Billy Carter, and Cornelia Wallace, the former wife of Alabama's pro-segregation governor, George Wallace.

Rice subsequently became a local radio personality in Nashville.

Paying tribute to Rice on Twitter, country superstar Reba MCEntire writes, "My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and all the friends of Tandy Rice. He will surely be missed."