Mo Ostin, Longtime Warner Bros. Records Head, Dead at 95


Mo Ostin, the massively influential music government who helmed Warner Bros. Information for greater than 30 years, has died on the age of 95.

Born Morris Meyer Ostrofsky in 1927, the long run music mogul spent his early childhood in New York, earlier than he and his household relocated to Los Angeles in 1941. In 1953, after learning economics at UCLA, he landed a job at Verve Information working within the finance division. Seven years later, following a failed try and buy Verve, legendary singer Frank Sinatra launched his personal label, Reprise, and poached Ostin to run it. In 1963, Reprise was bought by Warner Bros.

Ostin shortly made a reputation for himself at Warner Bros., signing the Kinks in 1964 and the Jimi Hendrix Expertise in ‘67. In 1970 he was promoted to the president of Warner-Reprise; two years later, he’d be made chairman/CEO — a title he held till his departure from the corporate in 1994.

Beneath Ostin’s watch, Warner Bros. accrued a roster of purchasers that featured a few of music’s largest acts, together with Fleetwood Mac, Van Halen, the Who, Van Morrison, the Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, James Taylor, Rod Stewart, R.E.M., Steely Dan, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Green Day.

Ostin earned a popularity for his artist-friendly strategy, one thing he mentioned he gleaned by working for Sinatra. “He divined that the thrust of the corporate must be its artists,” Ostin defined within the 2002 ebook Exploding. “All of it appears logical right this moment, however again then it was really revolutionary.”

Although prolific, Ostin’s tenure at Warner Bros. wasn’t at all times straightforward. The label was notably going by way of a tumultuous interval within the early ‘90s, following the merger of Warner Communications and Time Inc. It was additionally round this time that Prince started a well-publicized feud with the label, indignant that he had no management over the velocity at which they launched his materials. Within the midst of this storm, Ostin determined to depart the corporate he’d assist lead for greater than three a long time.

The famed government left Warner Bros. in 1994 and latched on with DreamWorks Information lower than a yr later. The upstart label made a reputation for itself signing an eclectic lineup of artists, together with Elliott Smith, Henry Rollins, Eels, Papa Roach, Jimmy Eat World, Rufus Wainwright and Nelly Furtado. Nonetheless, by 2003, declining gross sales and the daybreak of on-line music piracy had taken an impact and DreamWorks Information was bought to Common Music and finally dissolved.

Ostin was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 by Neil Young, Paul Simon and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels. “Anyone who was on Warner Bros. through the Mo years knew it to be an exalted time,” Simon mentioned during the ceremony, “with the attainable exception of Prince.”

“I really like Mo,” added Younger. “This man, Mo Ostin, was behind the music. He was behind making it occur. He was behind letting it occur, nevertheless it was gonna occur. And he was behind preserving it taking place. And that’s why Reprise and Warner Bros. had been the best label ever in music so far as I’m involved.”

As phrase of Ostin’s passing turned public, many music trade insiders paid their respects. In a joint assertion, Warner Information’ co-chairman/CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck and co-chairman/COO Tom Corson described Ostin as “one of many biggest document males of all time, and a first-rate architect of the fashionable music enterprise. For Mo, it was at all times at the beginning about serving to artists understand their imaginative and prescient.” Max Lousada, CEO of Warner Recorded Music referred to as Ostin “a pioneer who wrote the rulebook for others to observe,” whereas Common Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge noted that his “nostril for expertise was the stuff of legend, however he was additionally an unimaginable connector of individuals; one thing sorely missed within the enterprise—and the world—right this moment.”

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