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Murray Deutch, a longtime music industry executive who helped propel Buddy Holly and the Crickets to stardom, died Oct. 2 in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 90.
Deutch’s survivors include son Howard Deutch, the director of such films as “Pretty in Pink” and “Grumpier Old Men” and the husband of actress Lea Thompson, and a brother-in-law, actor Robert Walden.
Deutch discovered and helped sign Holly and the Crickets to a recording contract after hearing “That’ll Be the Day.” The executive also had in hand in the rock ‘n’ roll legend getting married.
In 1958, when Deutch was head of New York-based music publishing company Peer-Southern International, his secretary set Holly up with a Peer-Southern receptionist, Maria Elena Santiago, and the singer proposed after their first date. They were married two months later in Texas.
Also while at Peer-Southern, Deutch was responsible for Jane Morgan’s “Fascination,” a huge hit in 1957.
During the mid-1960s, Deutch served as head of the music division at United Artists, where he oversaw the scores for the James Bond franchise, the Beatles films and “Hair.”
In 1972, Deutch became the chairman and CEO of the New York Times Music Publishing Co. and acquired the publishing rights to “West Side Story” and “Godspell” for the company.
Four years later, he formed his own publishing company, Buttermilk Sky, where he represented artists such as Harry Belafonte and supervised music for “Annie,” “Ghostbusters,” “The Big Chill” and other films.
A native of the Bronx, N.Y., Deutch sang with big bands as a teenager, and after serving as a machine gunner in World War II, he appeared in Irving Berlin’s “This Is the Army” with his identical twin brother, Irving.
In 1947, he became a “song plugger,” a piano player employed by music stores to promote and help sell new sheet music. He went on to stints at Jubilee Records and Southern Records.
Fifteen years ago, Deutch retired to Scottsdale, Ariz.
In addition to Howard Deutch, Thompson and Walden, Deutch is survived by his wife of 62 years, Pamela; his daughter, Lisa Cantor; son-in-law Stuart Cantor; grandchildren Hayley, Sloane, Maddie and Zoey; great-granddaughter Avery; and niece Ivy Levine.
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