Home Music Mo Ostin, Music Powerhouse Who Put Artists First, Dies at 95

Mo Ostin, Music Powerhouse Who Put Artists First, Dies at 95

by Jersey Lady

“For me, an artist is someone who should be at the forefront,” Austin said in 1994.

Yet the industry recognized the importance of his work. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, and the Recording Academy won him his Presidential Merit Award in 2014 and the Council Award in 2017.

He was born Morris Meyer Ostrovsky on March 27, 1927 in Brooklyn to immigrant parents who came to the United States from Russia during the 1917 Communist Revolution. Los Angeles, where his family ran a produce market.

He was a music fan from an early age, but his encounter with the music business came about by chance. Next door to his family lived his brother Norman Granz, who owned his jazz label Clef Records and promoted concerts in the 1940s and his 50s. While in college, majoring in economics at the University of California, Los Angeles, Mr. Austin helped Mr. Grants by selling a program of concerts. He married Evelyn Berdavid in 1948.

A bachelor’s degree with honors, Mr. Austin attended law school at UCLA but dropped out in 1954 to support his wife and young son. Mr Grants hired him as Clef’s controller when the label’s roster included such important jazz artists as Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and Charlie Parker.

Clef eventually changed its name to Verve. Around the same time, Mr. Austin also changed his name.

Towards the end of the 1950s, Frank Sinatra tried to buy the label, inspired by its artist-friendly approach. However, out of his disappointment that he lost to MGM Records and ended up founding his own company, Reprise, in 1960, he appointed Mr. Ostin as Executive Vice President of the new company. was tasked with modeling in his Verve.

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