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Charles Koppelman, former music executive and Martha Stewart chairman, died on Friday. He was 82. A cause of death was not given at the time.
His son, showrunner Brian Koppelman, announced the loss on his social media, saying, “I’ll write more about my dad, Charles Koppelman, when I can. But the only thing that matters is how much I loved him. And how much he taught me about every single thing that matters.”
The Billions co-creator continued, “He lived exactly the life he wanted to live. And he spent his last days surrounded by those he loved the most. Pop, thank you.”
Koppelman began his career in entertainment as a member of musical trio The Ivy Three, which had a Top 10 hit in 1960 called “Yogi.” Shortly after, the singer and his bandmate, Don Rubin, joined Aldon Music’s songwriting staff alongside Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.
From there, they went on to form Koppelman and Rubin Associates, an entertainment company that signed The Lovin Spoonful the same year it opened. When Commonwealth United purchased the company in 1968, the two business partners stayed on to run it, before Koppelman moved on to CBS Records where he held multiple positions. While there, Koppelman signed acts like Billy Joel, Dave Mason, Janis Ian, Journey and Phoebe Snow.
In 1975, he was ready for another change, creating The Entertainment Company with Martin Bandier and Bandier’s father-in-law, New York real estate developer Samuel LeFrak. Together, they administered and promoted song catalogs, as well as produced iconic artists like Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross and Cher. A few years later, his son, Brian, discovered Tracy Chapman in college and introduced her to his father, who then gave her a record deal.
Koppelman, Bandier and Stephen C. Swid took things to the next level in 1986 when they formed SBK Entertainment World, Inc., and bought 250,000 songs owned by CBS for $125 million. The company eventually became one of the biggest independent music publishers, playing a major role in the careers of Michael Bolton, Robbie Robertson, New Kids on the Block, Grayson Hugh, Icehouse and more.
In 1989, Koppelman and Bandier create a partnership with EMI Music Worldwide and begin their own label, SBK Records. One year later, they landed their first platinum album with Technotronic’s Pump Up the Jam. They went on to sign talent like Jesus Jones, Wilson Phillips, Waterfront and Vanilla Ice, to name a few.
Koppelman remained in the music business for quite a few years before becoming the chairman of Steve Madden in 2000, leading the company while its founder served jail time for securities fraud. In 2005, Koppelman moved on to Marth Stewart Living Omnimedia, where he also served as chairman.
He’s survived by his son Brian, daughter Jenny Koppelman Hutt and his wife, Gerri Kyhill Koppelman.
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