Tuesday, November 30, 2004

RECORDBIZOBIT: Record industry boss Artie Mogull has died in LA. Mogull by both name and nature, he held executive positions at Warner Bros. Records, Capitol Records and MCA Records; he would eventually buy United Artists Records. The 77 year-old was still active during his later years; early in 2004 he launched another label, Insane (fake indie labels had been his speciality in the last decade or so).
Since his first steps in the music industry in 1949 - as a member of Tommy Dorsey's entourage - Mogull built a reputation based on a strong instinct for the nascent talent. Most impressively, he signed up Bob Dylan's publishing early on; although his idea of how to best use people's natural abilities wasn't always quite so acute. He had a stand-up row with Laura Nyro during a demo taping as he insisted that she should stick to cover versions and other people's songs.
His interests ran way beyond American artists - over the years he'd work with ELO, Deep Purple, Olivia Newton John and Helen Reddy. In the process, he'd built up a massive stack of anecdotes about the demands and tantrums of his charges, such as this classic about Paul Anka:
"...The day after Elvis died, my V.P. of Marketing walked into a meeting and announced RCA had orders for $100 million worth of Presley albums. To be funny I said, "Christ, there's our solution, let's shoot Paul Anka". Everyone laughed....Now skip three weeks, it's 3.30am and I'm fast asleep. The phone rings, it's Anka, the story has circulated back to him and he's in a rage. But when you've been at this (the record business) as long as me, you can think in your sleep. I waited for him to spout his rage and then said, ' Paul, you a fucking idiot. Do you realise you were the only artist I could think of whose death would warrant those kind of sales ?'. 'Jesus Christ', he said, ' I never thought of it that way'. The artist's ego had reared its head".
Mogull died on November 25th from heart failure.

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