Charles Koppelman Dies: Hit-Making Record Executive And Martha Stewart Living Chairman Was 82

Charles KoppelmanThe man whose publishing and talent development vision made him one of the recording industry’s top executives has died at the age of 82.

No reason was given by the listener of his son, Brian. Arabs, and daughter Jenny Koppelman Hutt. “He spent his last days surrounded by the people he loved most,” his son wrote on social media.

Koppelman saw the potential in music publishing early in his career.

He began his career as a singer and songwriter, part of the legendary Eldon Music staff that included Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil under CEO Don Kirshner.

He moved to CBS Records in the 1970s, rising to VP/GM of worldwide publishing. He saw the potential in owning the songwriting rights and formed his own company with CBS executive Martin Bandier and Bandier’s father-in-law, NY real estate king Samuel LeFrac. The company managed song catalogs for Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross, and Cher, among others.

In 1986, Koppelman, Bandier and Stephen C. Swid founded SBK Entertainment World, Inc. was formed to purchase the 250,000 titles owned by CBS Songs for $125 million, the highest price ever paid for a music publishing portfolio at the time.

That deal made SBK the world’s largest independent music publisher, boasting a roster that included Michael Bolton and New Kids on the Block.

He sold SBK to EMI Music in 1989 for $300 million. That deal allowed the formation of SBK Records, where Koppelman served as chairman and CEO. The label was an instant hit, with Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam” becoming its first platinum seller, followed by major albums by Wilson Phillips and Vanilla Ice.

In 1991, Koppelman and Bandier sold their share of SBK Records to EMI Music. But Koppelman became president and CEO of the newly consolidated EMI Records Group North America. Koppelman served as CEO until 1997.

Koppelman was its president from 2000 to 2004. Steve MaddenLtd., leading that company while Madden was serving prison time for securities fraud. He then became the president of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. He joined various entertainment industry boards in 2011.

No memorial plans have been announced.