Mo Austin, Legendary Warner Bros. Records Head, Died at 95 – Billboard

Mo AustinThe legendary CEO who led Warner Brothers Records through a span of artistic and commercial success for more than 30 years, passed away in his sleep on July 31, at the age of 95.

Ostin, who signed and / or worked with such businesses in ContractAnd the Fleetwood MacAnd the Joni MitchellAnd the Jimi Hendrix, rapid eye movementAnd the Randy Newman And much more, “He was one of the greatest recording men of all time, and a major architect of modern music,” he said. Tom CorsonCo-President and COO, Warner Records, and Aaron By-ShockCo-Chairman and CEO of Warner Records, in a joint statement.

Their statement continues: “For Mo, it has always been first and foremost helping artists achieve their vision.” “One of the pivotal figures in the evolution of Warner Music Group, in the 1960s Mo ushered Warner/Reprise Records into a golden age of revolutionary culture-changing art. During the next three decades he spent at the label, he remained a tireless champion of creative freedom, both for the talent he nurtured and for The people who worked for him Mo lived an extraordinary life doing what he loves and will be sorely missed throughout the industry he helped create, and by the countless artists and colleagues he inspired to be their best. On behalf of everyone at Warner, we would like to We thank Mo for all he has done and for his inspiring belief in our bright future. Our condolences to his family at this difficult time.”

Austin, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 and a Trustee Award from the Recording Academy in 2017, Maurice Mayer Ostrovsky was born in New York and moved to Los Angeles, where he attended Fairfax High School and UCLA. After starting his career at Verve Records, Ostin was recruited by Frank Sinatra to run Reprise Records in 1960. Three years later, he bought Warner Bros. Records label Reprise and Ostin quickly captured the pop spirit, signing The Kinks. Quickly then bring Hendrix, Mitchell, and Neil Young to the label.

Austin became president of Warner Bros. Records in 1970, and presided over the Warner and Reprise labels until he retired as Chairman/CEO in 1994. With the mindset of a first-person artist, the labels became home to an amazing array of artists during the period following his tenure, including Van Halen, Bonnie Wright , James Taylor, B-52s, Paul Simon, ZZ Top, George Benson, Don Henley, Tom Petty, Green Day, Van Dyke Parks, Dire Straits, Chaka Khan and, better known, Prince who signed with the 1977 label.

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Although Prince left the label in 1996, after being accused of “slavery,” to return in 2014, Austin considered Prince a genius, likening him to Sinatra in a 2016 interview with Billboard after Prince’s death. He recalled the first time he heard Prince and how Warner Bros.’ attitude toward artists – and Maher’s show – led to Prince choosing the brand: “Our head of merchandising [at the time]And the Ross Territt, got a demo from our Minnesota merchandising officer, Owen Hosny – later became Prince’s manager. We were totally blown away and wanted to sign him right away. There was a lot of competition because other people knew about him – A&M and Columbia were trying to sign him, and it became very competitive. But A&M wanted to publish it and didn’t give it up, so they passed it on to them. Columbia only gave him a two LP deal, so we decided to give him a three LP deal because we believe in him so deeply. And also, because we appreciate artists, sign with us.”

Many artists remained close to Austin for decades, even after he left Warner Bros., including hot red pepper Flea, who praised on Instagram: “Mo Ostin was a true gentleman. He was honest, kind and lovable. I’m so grateful he’s been such a part of my life; his stories, his humor, his love for his work, he’s the greatest person I’ve met in the music world. He made me feel so appreciated, And understanding, and welcoming, when I was a confused kid with so much work to do.”

Van Halen’s Sammy Hager added, commenting on Flea’s Instagram, “Some of the greatest artists of all time have ever signed nothing but love and respect for Moe Austin…a great post for Flea.”

Austin ran Warner Bros. From a multi-storey brown wooden building, called a ski lodge, in Burbank. He made it a haven for creativity, with artists visiting often and playing new music. “Ricky Lee Jones came in with a guitar and played about two and a half songs, which is all it took to realize they were great,” Lenny WarronkerWarner Brothers, Vice President of A&R, was recalled in 2019 painting Oral history of the building prior to Warner Bros. relocation. to downtown Los Angeles. “I think it was fair Ted Templeman and myself. It was a no-brainer. Van Dyke Parks came to my office before his first recording, when he was working with Brian Wilson. He had his stuff, and for me, it was cool, he’s sitting at the piano…although that was probably in the old building. once when Ross Tittleman And I set Ricky Lee Jones’ first record [in 1979]We had a meeting with her in Ross’ office, next door to mine, and she had a new idea of ​​arranging “Chuck E.’s in Love,” which was basically to slow him down. It gave him a real attitude.”

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after, after Jack HolzmannElektra Records became a subsidiary of Warner Bros.-Seven Arts (after Warner Brothers Records and Atlantic Records), and the founders of Ostin, Holzman and Atlantic Ahmed And the advise me ertegon He helped form WEA, the global distribution system that handled their releases and brought distribution within the company.

Contemporary Austin, Creative Director of Sony Music Entertainment Clive Davis, remembers him as a fierce competitor, but a close friend. “Mo Austin was one-of-a-kind. The company she headed was completely unique in its very own management, and of course the depth of art that has influenced contemporary music and culture profoundly and historically.” Yes, we competed with each other for many years but my friendship with him extended into our families. I will always cherish our very close relationship.”

Executives remember him a generation after Austin as an influential force. YouTube/Google Head of World Music Lior Cohenwho served as Chairman of Warner Music Group from 2004-2012 painting“The great news is that he lived a wonderful life. He was a wonderful husband and father and lived a healthy musical life. My heart is with Michael and family. Let’s celebrate his life by listening to the many artists he has supported. We should all be as lucky as Mo!!”

The Chairman/CEO of Universal Music Group said, “Mo was a great teacher Lucien Gring in the current situation. “He lived by a set of values ​​that taught me a lot about business, how to be a leader, and about life. My respect for him as an executive and his family was total. His “nose” for talent was a legendary thing, but it was also a wonderful bond to people; something sorely missing in the business. – And in the world – today. My deepest condolences to Michael and the whole family.”

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“There will only be one Mo Ostin, and we’ll all stand on his shoulders and take advantage of his incredible feats,” Hipgnosis co-founder of Merck Mercuriades wrote on Instagram. “It’s very hard not to pick his Warner Records as the biggest label ever. From Tweet embed to me Tweet embed An incredible man who influenced the careers of many legends. None of us today can touch the edge of his dress. I love Michael and the Austin family.”

Max LosadaWarner Recorded Music CEO added: “In an age where creative entrepreneurs are revered, we celebrate Mo Austin as a pioneer who wrote a rulebook for others to follow. Warner Music Group and Warner Records wouldn’t exist without his passion, vision and intelligence. Not only did he help build one of the The greatest music company in the world, but inspired a culture driven by courage and creativity.Mo saw artists for what they were and gave them the space and support to fully realize their authenticity. [Mo’s son] Michael and the entire Austin family. Mo was a legend, and we will miss him deeply.”

After retiring from Warner Bros. Austin has remained busy, including co-founding and managing the music department of DreamWorks SKG from 1996 to 2004. Later, he served as a consultant and board member for the music schools at his alma mater, University of California, as well as the University of California. In 2011, he donated $10 million to UCLA for a new facility called the Evelyn and Moe Austin Center for Music.

Austin’s wife Evelyn and two sons Randy and Kenny preceded him in death. His son Michael survived.

Perhaps the most fitting tribute to Austin’s humble style comes from Stan Cornyn, the former CEO of Warner Brothers, who praised Austin as he pitted Rock Hall for trusting the people he hired to work their magic under him: “Moe was amazing. So cool, he didn’t tell any We never tell you how to do our job.”

Dan Reese provided assistance with this story.

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