Stephen Diener, Former Head of ABC Records and CBS Records France, Dies at 80

Denis J. Plehn
Stephen Diener

Among the artists he worked with were Steely Dan, Tom Petty, Jimmy Buffett and the Commodores.

Stephen I. Diener, a music and entertainment executive who served as president of ABC Records, died April 30 at his home in Coral Gables, Fla. He was 80.

After graduating from Tulane University, he began his professional career in New York at Young & Rubicam and Revlon. Pursuing a love for the arts and entertainment, he entered the music industry and held various executive positions at CBS Records International before departing to Paris to head CBS Records France.

Diener then moved to Los Angeles where he was named president of ABC Records in 1977. Among the artists he worked with were Steely Dan, Tom Petty, Jimmy Buffett and the Commodores. Subsequently, he oversaw the sale of the ABC record label to MCA Corporation. 

In the early '80s, Diener relocated to Miami and returned to CBS International, where he helmed the marketing operations of the European and Latin American divisions. 

Later, as a pioneer in the home video business, he was named president of 20th Century Fox Video. In the mid-'80s, he served as chairman/CEO of Heron Communications, a privately owned home entertainment company, after which he led a private-equity acquisition of the legendary Fred Astaire Dance Studios where he also served as chairman/CEO.

Diener is survived by his son James Diener, daughter Holly Diener, stepson Pascal Jacquelin, nephew Scott Diener and niece Sharon Newell. James is the co-founder of FreeSolo Entertainment, a joint venture with Interscope/UMG; FreeSolo Publishing, a joint venture with Sony/ATV and FreeSolo Management, a joint venture with Vector Management. FreeSolo represents or has represented Avril Lavigne, Rachel Platten, The Struts, Gavin DeGraw, Hailee Steinfeld and Pitbull. 

Services will be held May 5 at 12 p.m. at Jewish Memorial Chapel, 841 Allwood Road, Clifton, NJ 07012. 

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