John Fry, founder of Ardent Studios in Memphis, died today of cardiac arrest. He was 69 years old. His death comes just five days after the passing of his long-time partner John Hampton. Hampton died Dec. 13 after a long fight with cancer.

Aside from running Ardent Studios, Fry also played a large role in guiding the rock band Big Star, including producing their first three albums. Fry and Big Star were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just last month.

Fry produced many other musicians during his time at Ardent, including almost all of the Stax label artists. He also ran two record labels and was a champion of the local music scene in Memphis. Former Stax label head Al Bell told the Commercial Appeal:

He was a beautiful human being and his spirit will live on. We should celebrate him; he brought a lot into the Memphis music environment — socially, economically and culturally. John Fry did that. John Fry did all that.

All of us at Diffuser offer our deepest regards to Fry's friends and family.