Bruce Lundvall, CEO of the Blue Note Label Group, Dies
Bruce Lundvall (September 13, 1935 – May 19, 2015) was an American record company executive, best known for his period as the President and CEO of the Blue Note Label Group, reporting directly to Eric Nicoli, the Chief Executive Officer of EMI Group.
In a career spanning half a century, Bruce Lundvall signed a wide array of artists, including Willie Nelson, Herbie Hancock, Dexter Gordon, Woody Shaw, James Taylor, Stan Getz, Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Richard Marx, Natalie Cole, Cassandra Wilson, Anita Baker, and Norah Jones. He headed the following labels: Blue Note Records (jazz), Angel Records (classical), and Manhattan Records (adult pop).
Lundvall began his music career in marketing at Columbia Records where he remained for 21 years, becoming President of the domestic division of CBS Records in 1976. In the course of his tenure, he built Columbia’s jazz roster into the largest of any major label.
In 1979, Bruce Lundvall organized and sponsored in Havana, Cuba, the Havana Jam festival that took place between 2–4 March, with Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge, Stephen Stills, the CBS Jazz All-Stars, the Trio of Doom, Fania All-Stars, Billy Swan, Bonnie Bramlett, Mike Finnigan, Weather Report, and Billy Joel, plus an array of Cuban artists such as Irakere, Pacho Alonso, Tata Güines, and Orquesta Aragón. Their performances are captured on Ernesto Juan Castellanos’s documentary Havana Jam ’79, and on the two Columbia albums Havana Jam and Havana Jam II.
Lundvall moved to Elektra in 1982, where he became President of Elektra Records and the newly created Elektra/Musician Jazz label.
In 1984, he was approached with an offer to create Manhattan, a pop music label based on the East Coast, for EMI, as well as to revive the suspended Blue Note jazz label. Lundvall accepted the challenge and steered the label for a quarter of a century. He was responsible for signing an unknown Norah Jones. Jones’s debut Come Away With Me, and her subsequent albums, have sold in their millions internationally. Lundvall stood down as President of Blue Note in 2010. In January 2012, Don Was became President of Blue Note, having been appointed CEO the previous year, with Lundvall becoming Chairman Emeritus.
Lundvall served as chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Chairman of the Country Music Association (CMA) and Director of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). He received three Grammy nominations and a NARM presidential award. He was a member of the Jazz Foundation of America Board of Directors Advisory Committee.
Lundvall died during surgery related to Parkinson’s disease on May 19, 2015, in New Jersey. He was survived by his wife, Kay Lundvall, three sons and two grand-daughters.
Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…
27: Dennis Sheehan, 68, English music tour manager (U2), heart attack.
26: Rocky Frisco, 77, American pianist (JJ Cale Band).
24: Marcus Belgrave, 78, American jazz trumpeter, heart failure.
23: Liv Marit Wedvik, 45, Norwegian country singer, drowning.
21: Louis Johnson, 60, American bassist (The Brothers Johnson, Michael Jackson); Darius Minwalla, 39, American drummer (The Posies) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Posies ; Mac Poole, 69, British drummer, throat cancer; Twinkle, 66, British singer-songwriter (“Terry”), cancer.
20: Bob Belden, 58, American musician, heart attack; State of Bengal, 50, Bangladeshi-born British DJ and music producer.
19: Bruce Lundvall, 79, American record executive (Blue Note Records), complications of Parkinson’s disease.