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Legendary A&M Records President Gil Friesen Dead at 75

Gil Friesen
John Sciulli, Getty Images

The music world is mourning the death of legendary A&M Records executive Gil Friesen (pictured at left in the above photo), who along with Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, helped grow the record label into a major player in the music industry. Friesen passed away Thursday (Dec. 13) at his Los Angeles home at the age of 75.

Friesen had suffered from leukemia. His wife Janet wrote in a note about his passing, “At 5:53 p.m. PST, Gil moved gently and peacefully into the next world. We brought him home early in the afternoon, and he rested in front of the big windows in his living room. The sun came through the trees, and it was exceptionally beautiful and moving. He was comfortable, and it was an incredible honor to bring him home. Gil loved all of you as we loved him, and his spirit, and the stories, will live on.”

During his time working at A&M Records, Friesen helped develop the careers of such acts as the Flying Burrito Brothers, Joe Cocker, Nils Lofgren, Supertramp, Peter Frampton, The Police and Bryan Adams among others. Friesen became president of A&M in 1977 and remained with the company until it was sold to Polygram in 1990.

In 1981, he expanded the A&M name by launching the independent movie production company, A&M Films, which backed such movies as ‘The Breakfast Club,’ ‘Better Off Dead,’ ‘One Crazy Summer’ and ‘Blaze.’ Friesen also co-founded the Classic Sports Cable Network, which was sold to ESPN in 1997.

Moss told Rolling Stone of Friesen’s contributions, “He helped create the culture that was A&M.” Friesen stated in 2006 about the label he helped build, “A&M always prided itself on being independent and artists and managers recognized there was something about that quality, that characteristic, that uniqueness, that independence, that was attractive to them. It made them less vulnerable to big business.”

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