Jim Delehant, Longtime A&R Director at Atlantic Records, Dies at 80

Jim Delehant and Ringo Starr-Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy the Estate of Jim Delehant

Earlier, he worked as a writer and editor for 'Hit Parader' magazine.

Jim Delehant, a former music journalist and longtime A&R director at Atlantic Records, died Tuesday in Kingston, New York, of complications of a stroke and heart failure, a family spokesperson said. He was 80.

After working as a writer and editor at Hit Parader magazine, Delehant served as vice president, director of A&R at Atlantic/ATCO Records from 1968-81, an era in which the label group became an industry powerhouse. 

At Atlantic, Delehant was associated with acts including ABBA, AC/DC, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Foreigner, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Mike Oldfield, Jimmy Page, the Persuaders, Rose Tattoo, Sister Sledge and Ringo Starr. 

His tenure also overlapped with the proliferation of custom labels through Atlantic including RSO (Bee Gees, Eric Clapton), Asylum (Eagles, Jackson Browne), Swan Song (Led Zeppelin, Bad Company) and Stax/Volt (Booker T. & the M.G.'s, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave).

It was Delehant who assigned Bob Clearmountain to remix The Rolling Stones' "Miss You" in 1978, resulting in a danceable No. 1 single for the band.

"Jim was a set of my ears at Atlantic," lifelong friend Jerry Greenberg, a former Atlantic exec and co-founder of Mirage Music Entertainment, said in a statement. "We both lived in Connecticut, so Jim and I would commute together. We would listen to music in the car and pick the singles there. We had pins made up to put on the sun visor. We gave the car gold records. He was sweet, kind and loved by all the artists and staff."

James Joseph Delehant was born on July 26, 1940, in Hamden, Connecticut. He graduated from Notre Dame High School in 1958, then attended Paier College of Art and Southern Connecticut State College, where he studied journalism.

In 1962, Delehant joined Charlton Publications' Hit Parader and went on to profile the likes of Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon, Nina Simone, B.B. King, Albert King, John Lee Hooker, John Coltrane and Taj Mahal and write about the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Cream and Simon & Garfunkel, among many others.

After Greenberg exited Atlantic in 1980 to form Mirage with his brother, Bob, Delehant joined them a year later as director of A&R/producer. Acts for which he was responsible included Gary Moore, Shannon, The System and Whitesnake. He retired in 1989.

Survivors include his children, Dave, Elaine and Sean, and two grandchildren. Donations in his memory can be made to Ulster County Hospice in Kingston.