Saturday, November 26, 2022

R.I.P.: Charles Koppelman, Storied Music Executive

Charles Koppelman (1940-2022)

Charles Koppelman — the famed music executive who was the head of EMI Records, as well as Martha Stewart and Steve Madden’s companies, during his storied career — passed away on Friday at age 82, his family said.A source told Page Six at The NY Post that Koppelman died after a long illness and spent his last days surrounded by friends and family.

Koppelman’s career in entertainment and beyond was legendary.

After beginning in a band called The Ivy Three — which performed the 1960 hit, “Hey, Yogi” — he became a songwriter for industry vet Don Kirshner, along with famed tunesmiths Gerry Goffin and Carole King. But, a pal joked that Koppelman was, “the worst songwriter in [Kirshner’s] stable,” so he wound up instead running Kirshner’s Aldon Music at age 24.

He then was managing director of Screen Gems/Columbia Music before starting his own imprint.

Along the way, Koppelman identified “Here You Come Again” as a song for Dolly Parton, and helped guide the country star’s crossover into pop. He also helped discover recording artists as diverse and successful as the Lovin’ Spoonful, Vanilla Ice, Wilson Phillips and Tim Hardin. He co-produced Bobby Darin’s groundbreaking song, “If I Were A Carpenter,” and executive produced half a dozen of Barbra Streisand’s albums.

An industry insider told Page Six, “He chose all the songs and helped make her a pop music superstar by finding a more modern sound and pairing her with artists like Donna Summer, Barry Gibb and Neil Diamond.”

Koppelman was also a business leader — building the largest independent music publishing company before selling it to EMI. He founded SBK Records and was the chairman and CEO of EMI Music Publishing and EMI Records Group North America.

After leaving EMI at age 57, he became a corporate leader as chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Steve Madden. He was also on the board of directors of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, SeaWorld and others.

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