Village Roadshow co-chair Hal Gaba dies

Oversaw Concord Music, formed Starbucks partnership

NEW YORK -- Hal Gaba, the chairman and co-owner of Concord Music Group, co-chairman of Village Roadshow Pictures, and CEO of ACT III Communications, passed away March 9 of cancer. He was 63.

Born in Oakland, California in 1946, Gaba received a Bachelor's Degree in finance at UC Berkeley before obtaining his Master's from UCLA. His career began in 1967 with a position as research analyst at William O'Neil and Company. After 7 years, Gaba pursued a position at Tandem Productions where he teamed up with Norman Lear, Bud Yorkin and Jerry Perenchio who became life-long partners and friends. Tandem grew along with them and morphed into a successful television production company.

While still partnering with Lear, Gaba gained the title of president and chief executive officer of multi-media holding company ACT III Communications in 1990. Before the end of the century, he and Lear became co-owners of the Concord Music Group, allowing Gaba to achieve his dream of owning a record company. Concord went on to release music by legendary artists such as Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Sergio Mendes, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Gaba's personal favorite, Frank Sinatra.

In 2003, Concord Records and Starbucks aided Ray Charles in releasing Genius Loves Company, the artist's final recording that gained him the Grammy award for album of the year along with seven other Grammy victories. Knowing what they were capable of as partners, Concord and Starbucks went on to create Hear Music in 2006, which released albums for music masters Paul McCartney, James Taylor, John Mellencamp, and Joni Mitchell.

Gaba decided to merge Concord with Australia's well-known Village Roadshow Pictures and started Village Roadshow Entertainment group in 2008. Village Roadshow has put out box office sensations "Happy Feet," "Oceans 13," "I Am Legend," "Get Smart" and "Gran Torino" among others.

Apart from his contributions to the entertainment industry, Gaba served on the board of directors for World Trade Bank, Union Rescue Mission, Univision Communications Corporation, the Henry Mancini Institute and the Curtis School. He also was part of the executive committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Gaba had an incredible sense of humor as well as a lust for life, and he treated those he worked with as family. His passion for music and film gained him close friendships with both artists and coworkers, who he both respected and admired. Gaba always put the artists' interests first and made sure their creative talents were accurately displayed.

His long list of achievements and support to this industry were substantial.

He is survived by his wife, Carole; daughters, Lauren and Elizabeth; mother, Thelma Gaba; sister, Joelle Lawson; and brother, Jeff Gaba.