Dolly Parton marks the passing of Country Music Hall of Famer Fred Foster, the man behind her first record deal

L-R: Kris Kristofferson, Fred Foster, Willie Nelson; Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Country Music Hall of Famer Fred Foster passed away Wednesday night at the age of 87, after a short illness.

The 2016 inductee into the Hall led the legendary record label Monument, and was instrumental in the careers of Kris Kristofferson and Roy Orbison, among others. Perhaps most notably, he gave Dolly Parton her first record deal.

“I am heartbroken that my friend Fred Foster has passed on,” Dolly reacted on her socials. “Fred was one of the very first people to believe in me and gave me chances no one else would or could.”

“We’ve stayed friends through the years,” she added, “and I will miss him. I will always love him.”

Dolly performed her breakthrough hit, “Dumb Blonde,” in honor of Foster when he officially joined the Hall of Fame a little more than two years ago.

Details are pending for a planned memorial service in March.

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