i bought thisThe renowned label executive who led Warner Bros. Records through a storied time of both artistic and commercial success for more than 30 years, died in his sleep on July 31 at the age of 95.
Austin, who signed and/or acted upon such acts obsession, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, rem, Randy Newman More so, he was “one of the greatest record men of all time, and a key architect of the modern music business”, said Tom CorsonCo-President and COO, Warner Records, and Aaron Bay-Shookco-president and CEO, Warner Records, in a joint statement.
His statement continues, “For Mo, helping artists realize their vision was always first and foremost.” Moe, one of the key figures in the development of Warner Music Group in the 1960s, ushered in Warner/Reprise Records in a golden age of revolutionary, culture-shifting artistry. Over his next three decades at the label, he became a tireless champion of creative freedom. remains a champion, both for his talent and the people who worked for him. Mo lived an extraordinary life doing what he loved, and he will be deeply remembered throughout the industry he helped create, and By the countless artists and collaborators who inspired him to be his best. On behalf of everyone at Warner, we’d like to thank Moe for everything he’s done and his inspiring belief in our bright future. Our condolences are with his family in time.”
Osteen, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 and received a Trustee Award from the Recording Academy in 2017, was born as Morris Meyer Ostrofsky in New York and attended Fairfax High School and UCLA. moved to Los Angeles. After starting his career at Verve Records, Austin was recruited by Frank Sinatra to run his Reprise Records in 1960. Three years later, Warner Bros. Records bought Reprise and the pop zeitgeist quickly caught on, with Austin signing The Kinks. Soon after, he brought on Hendrix, Mitchell and Neil Young to the label.
Osteen became president of Warner Bros. Records in 1970, presiding over the Warner and Reprise imprints until retiring as president/CEO in 1994. With an artist-first mentality, the label became home to an astonishing range of artists during the next. His tenure, Van Halen, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, B-52, Paul Simon, ZZ Top, George Benson, Don Henley, Tom Petty, Green Day, Van Dyke Park, Dire Straits, Chaka Khan, and, famously, Prince, who signed with the label in 1977.
Although Prince left the label in 1996 after being accused of “slavery”, only to return in 2014, Osteen regarded Prince as a genius, comparing him to a 2016 interview with Billboard following Prince’s passing. From Sinatra. He recalled that it was the first time he heard Prince and that Prince chose the label because of Warner Bros.’s attitude towards artists and a tempting offer: “Our head of promotion [at the time], rasa thaireteGot a demo from Owen Husney, our promotion man in , Minnesota – he later became Prince’s manager. We were absolutely blown away and wanted to sign it immediately. There was a lot of competition because others knew about him – A&M and Columbia were trying to sign him, and it became very competitive. But A&M wanted it to be published and didn’t want to drop it, so it passed them on. Columbia would only give him a two-LP deal, so we decided we would give him a three-LP deal because we believe in him a lot. What’s more, because we valued artists, they signed with us.”
Austin ran Warner Bros. from a multi-level brown wood building called the Ski Lodge in Burbank. He made it a haven for creativity, with artists often coming to visit and play new music. “Ricky Lee Jones came in with a guitar and played about two and a half songs, which was all it took to feel like she was great,” Lenny WaronkarWarner Bros. VP of A&R, 2019. called back in Board Oral history on the building before Warner Bros. moved to downtown Los Angeles. “I guess it was just” Ted Templeman and myself. He was no brainer. Van Dyke Parks came to my office before his first record, when he was working with Brian Wilson. He had his belongings, and to me, it was amazing, he was sitting at the piano … although he must have been in the old building. once, when Russ Titelman And I was releasing Ricky Lee Jones’ first record [in 1979], we had a meeting with him in Russ’s office, which was next to me, and he had a new idea for arranging ‘Chuck E. in Love,’ which was basically to take it slow. It gave it a real attitude. ,
Later Jack HolzmanElektra Records became part of the Warner Bros.-Seven Arts Company (after Warner Bros. Records and Atlantic Records), founding Austin, Holzman and Atlantic. ahmato And nesuhi ertegun helped create WEA, the global distribution system that handled their releases and brought distribution in-house.
Austin’s contemporary, chief creative officer of Sony Music Entertainment clive davis, remembers him as a fierce competitor, but a close friend. “Mo Ostin was one of a kind. And the company he headed was utterly unique in its specialized management and, of course, the depth of artistry that influenced contemporary music and culture so deeply and historically, He said in a statement. “Yes, he and I competed with each other for many years, but my friendship with him lasted to our respective families and I will always cherish our very close relationship.”
A generation after Austin, officials remember him as a dominant force. Global Head of YouTube/Google Music lore cohenwho served as chairman of Warner Music Group from 2004-2012, reported Board“The great news is that he lived an incredible life. He was a wonderful husband, father and lived a healthy musical life. My heart goes out to Michael and the family. Let’s celebrate his life by listening to the many artists he supported. We should all be lucky to be like Moe!!”
“Moe was a great mentor,” Universal Music Group chairman/CEO said. lucian gringe in a statement. “He lived by a set of values that taught me a lot about business, and how to be a leader, and about life. I had full respect for him as both an executive and a family man. For him his ‘nose’ was the stuff of legend, but he was also an incredible connector of people; something very much is missing in business and the world today. My deepest condolences to Michael and the entire family.”
“There will only be one Mo Ostin and we will all stand on his shoulders and benefit from his incredible adventures,” said Hypgnosis, co-founded Merc Mercuriades, on Instagram. “It is very difficult not to pick their Warner Records as the greatest label of all time. From @sinatra To @neilyoungarchives An incredible man who influenced the careers of so many veterans. Today none of us can touch the top of his robe. Love to the Michael and Austin family.”
Max LusadaThe CEO of Warner Recorded Music said, “In an era when creative entrepreneurs are respected, we celebrate Mo Ostin as a pioneer who wrote the rulebook for others to follow. Warner Music Group and Warner Records pursue their passion.” , would not exist without foresight and intelligence. Not only did they help build one of the world’s biggest music companies, but they inspired a culture of bravery and ingenuity. Mo saw artists for who they really were and gave them the space and support to fully realize their originality. [Mo’s son] Michael and the entire Austin family. Mo was a legend, and he will be greatly missed.”
Following his retirement from Warner Bros., Osteen remained busy, including co-founding and running the music division of DreamWorks SKG from 1996–2004. Later, he served as an advisor and board member for music schools at his alma mater, UCLA, as well as at USC. In 2011, he donated $10 million to UCLA for a new facility called the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center.
Austin had his wife, Evelyn, and their two sons, Randy and Kenny, before his death. He has a son Michael in his family.
Perhaps the most fitting tribute to Osteen’s low-key style comes from Stan Cornyn, a former Warner Bros. executive, who lauded Osteen when he joined the Rock Hall, the people he hired to work his magic. Trusted: “Moe was brilliant. So brilliant, he didn’t tell any of us how to do our job.”
Assistance on this story provided by Dan Riis.