Mo Ostin, the celebrated label executive who helped Warner Brothers Records achieve both critical and commercial success, died in his sleep on July 31, at the age of 95.
Ostin, who signed and worked with such acts at The Kinks, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, R.E.M., Randy Newman, and many more, was “one of the greatest record men of all time, and a prime architect of the modern music business,” said Tom Corson, co-chairman and COO of Warner Records, and Aaron Bay-Schuck, co-chairman and CEO, Warner Records, in a joint statement.
“For Mo, it was always first and foremost about helping artists realize their vision,” they added. “One of the pivotal figures in the evolution of Warner Music Group, in the 1960s Mo ushered Warner/Reprise Records into a golden era of revolutionary, culture-shifting artistry. Over his next three decades at the label, he remained a tireless champion of creative freedom, both for the talent he nurtured and the people who worked for him.
“Mo lived an extraordinary life doing what he loved, and he will be deeply missed throughout the industry he helped create, and by the countless artists and colleagues whom he inspired to be their best selves. On behalf of everyone at Warner, we want to thank Mo for everything he did, and for his inspiring belief in our bright future. Our condolences go out to his family at this difficult time.”
Ostin became president of Warner Records in 1970, running the Warner and Reprise imprints until he retired as chairman/CEO in 1994. Under his watchful eye, the labels became the home to a range of celebrated artists over the next during his tenure, including Van Halen, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, the B-52s, Paul Simon, ZZ Top, George Benson, Don Henley, Tom Petty, Green Day, Van Dyke Parks, Dire Straits, Chaka Khan, and, Prince. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.