Don Tolle is a music man, and for as long as he
can remember, that's all he's ever really wanted to do. From his
boyhood years of growing up singing in church in West Texas, to
teaching himself to play the guitar in his early teens, he has always
been guided by a singular musical vision; The only criteria being
that it be authentic and original. On his musical journey, he has
worn many hats and played a variety of roles; Songwriter, executive,
record producer, label founder and president, music publisher and
ultimately, recording artist. All are pieces of the tapestry and
symphony known as Tollesongs.
Don began his career as a songwriter in Texas in the 1970's, and
during that period of time, accepted a promotion and marketing position
with A&M Records in Dallas, Texas. In his first year with that
company he was named "Promotion Man Of The Year" and was
promoted to an executive position with the company and moved to
Atlanta, Georgia in 1976. The demands of that position would take
him away from his writing for a few years, but the experience he
gained would prove invaluable in the years ahead, as he charted
his unique musical course.
After six great years with A&M Records, Don realized that he
was not the "corporate" type, and was much more comfortable
being independent and following his own instincts. He characterizes
his departure from that company as "graduating", to return
to his creative roots and pursuits.
In the next couple of years Don began producing an artist named
Jim Glaser with the dream of starting his own record company. In
1981 his dream became a reality when Noble Vision Records was launched
with the release of it's first single; A song titled "When
You're Not A Lady" which rose to #16 on Billboard Magazine's
Country chart. A feat never before accomplished by an independent's
first release. The following two singles both went "Top Ten"
on the national charts with the fourth single "You're Gettin'
To Me Again" becoming the first independent single to go #1
on any national country chart in over twenty years, achieving that
milestone on September 9, 1984 and chronicled in the March 1984
issue of Time Magazine. After the historic success of Noble Vision's
first album, "The Man In The Mirror", which yielded four
Top Ten singles and a #1 single, as well as staying on the country
album chart for two years, Noble Vision found itself strapped for
capital and entered into a distribution and marketing arrangement
with MCA Records in 1985. That moved Don to Nashville in the summer
of 1985. Frustrated over his loss of control of the day-to-day operations
of the company that he had founded, and the inability of the MCA
pact to equal the kind of success the company had enjoyed previously
under his direction, he left MCA Records and thus began a new chapter
in his musical odyssey.
Don withdrew from the music business for a year, and in his words
entered a period of "soul searching" as to his future
direction in music. Recognizing that his first and greatest love
had always been the songs, he formed Pookie Bear Music in 1987.
The first, and only writer in the company was Tony Arata; a writer/artist
he had signed and developed with Noble Vision Records. Some of the
hits published by Pookie Bear Music include: "The Dance",
"Same Old Story", "Face To Face" and "Kickin
And Screamin" by Garth Brooks. "The Dance" achieved
the distinction of being voted Country Weekly Magazine's All Time
Favorite Country Song in 1997, and Radio & Records Magazine's
Most Performed Song of the Decade, as well as being voted The ACM
Song Of The Year in 1990. It was also nominated for a Grammy for
Song Of The Year in 1990. In 1996, Pookie Bear Music hit it's high
water mark when it had three back-to-back #1 singles; I'm Holdin'
My Own" by Lee Roy Parnell, "Dreamin' With My Eyes Open"
by Clay Walker, and "Here I Am" by Patty Loveless. It
was a very good year! There were also cuts by Dan Seals, The Oak
Ridge Boys, Delbert McClinton, Ronna Reeves, Tanya Tucker, and Trisha
Yearwood to name a few.
In 1992, Don formed Purple Girl Music to support the songs of a
North Carolina artist/writer/poet named Malcolm Holcombe whom he
had discovered and befriended while the latter was the cook at the
Douglas Corner Cafe; a favorite showcase club among Nashville's
song writing community. In 1994, Don produced and released Malcolm's
first CD, "A Far Cry From Here", on his own label, Io
Records. It is now regarded as a classic among Malcolm's legion
of fanatical fans. The title cut was recorded in 2001 by Maura O'Connell
and included on her "Walls And Windows" album.
After a nine-year hiatus from recording Malcolm Holcombe, Don produced
the long awaited, and much anticipated follow up album “Another
Wisdom” on Malcolm that was released in March 2003 on Purple
Girl Music. It has received critical acclaim domestically and internationally,
and was recently released in the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand
on 2/2/04 on Southbound Records to an ever-expanding audience.
Since moving to Nashville in 1985, Don had returned to his first
love--song writing, and had continued writing through his various
musical incarnations. In 1995, finding himself free of any contractual
obligations for the first time in fifteen years; he formed Tollesongs,
and decided to to take a year and see what it felt like to be a
full time songwriter. That year has now become 12 years with no end in sight! In 2002, Don achieved another milestone with the release of his first album "Freedom Road," followed in January 2008 with the release of his much-anticipated second album "Night Flight."
The adventure continues….