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Mo Ostin, Legendary Warner Bros Records Executive, Dies at 95

He worked with artists like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Van Halen and many more
Mo Ostin
(Credit: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

Mo Ostin, the legendary Warner Bros. Records executive, died Sunday (July31) in his sleep at the age of 95.

Born on March 27, 1927, Ostin got his first job in the music business working at Verve Records. In 1960, Reprise Records founder Frank Sinatra hired him to be the label’s general manager. Later that decade, the company was bought by Warner Bros. Records. In the early ’60s, Ostin signed The Kinks as well as Jimi Hendrix following his Monterey Pop Festival set in 1968.

Ostin was named Warner-Reprise’s president in 1970 and was upped to CEO in 1972. During his tenure, he worked with an all-star group of musicians, including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, The Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, Bonnie Raitt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Paul Simon, Van Morrison, and Van Halen.

He left Warner in 1994 and joined DreamWorks Records when it was founded in 1995 by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen. In 2003, Ostin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Warner Music CEO and co-chairman Aaron Bay-Schuck and co-chairman and COO Tom Corson revealed the news of Ostin’s death in a statement, which you can read below.

“Legendary music executive Mo Ostin passed away peacefully in his sleep last night at the age of 95. Mo was one of the greatest record men of all time, and a prime architect of the modern music business. For Mo, it was always first and foremost about helping artists realize their vision. 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.”