Many years in the past, in the course of the early a part of my 29-year tenure at Warner Bros. Data (when it nonetheless had the “Bros” within the identify), I considered what would occur if we ever misplaced Mo Ostin. I admit it was a darkish thought however even then I knew that the corporate was one thing particular within the enterprise as a direct results of Mo’s outlook and character.

There’s a music with the lyric, “You don’t know what you’ve obtained till you lose it.” However within the case of Mo Ostin, we knew what we had and had been grateful that we didn’t lose it. … till simply now. The comfort right here is that we misplaced him after he lived a protracted and fruitful skilled and private life that had an enormous affect on the music enterprise and people with whom he labored. Discover that the conjunction right here is “with” and never “for” as a result of that’s the way it was. His emphasis was on collaborative work, not ego-fueling self-aggrandizement that’s so frequent in enterprise (and politics) as of late.

I’m type of glad I had a quick, unsuccessful run at one other label a couple of years after I began at Warner Bros., solely to return and keep for the subsequent quarter century. That have, against this, confirmed me simply how particular it was at Warners and I used to be very grateful to have been taken again into the fold after my misadventure elsewhere.

The phrase that springs to thoughts when contemplating Mo Ostin is “loyal.” He was true to his staff and handled them as household; his concern about our well-being was real. If a staffer had well being points, Mo and his spouse Evelyn, identified within the constructing at “Saint Ev,” would do something they might to assist together with discovering the correct medical doctors, the correct remedy, the correct hospital. It’s arduous to think about one other Board Chairman with as a lot a deal with humanity as Mo; he merely cared about us and we cared about him.

Mo transcended tectonic occasions within the enterprise. Beginning at Verve after which becoming a member of Frank Sinatra at Reprise, he all the time knew there was one thing greater than the anticipated.  Verve was a jazz label however signed Ricky Nelson; it’s an understatement to counsel that Sinatra wasn’t keen on rock and roll however, in some way, Mo satisfied him to signal the Kinks.

He was open-minded and that was certainly one of his nice strengths: he went past the predictable and took possibilities on actual artistry. He signed the Seashore Boys after they had been regarded as passé; he introduced Jimi Hendrix to Burbank from what gave the impression to be outer area and backed artists of doubtful industrial potential simply because they had been good at what they did. He knew that there was experience outdoors his realm that could possibly be tapped so he introduced on Bearsville, Capricorn, Chrysalis, Island, Curtom, Tommy Boy, Chilly Chillin’ and, after all, Sire. He believed in expertise, each musical and government, and that perception often paid off.

When Fleetwood Mac broke by, when the corporate skilled nice success with the Pink Sizzling Chili Peppers, when George Harrison invented the concept of The Touring Wilburys, he was delighted not simply because the underside line would look so a lot better however as a result of all of us had achieved one thing. He knew he didn’t do it alone however, then once more, we couldn’t have accomplished it with out him.

On a private stage, I all the time felt comfy interacting with him although being within the firm of such a titan would logically be intimidating. He was a “mensch” of the very best order and have become one thing of a father determine to me after I misplaced mine. We appeared as much as him and aspired to be as calm in demeanor and as savvy in enterprise as he was.

Russ Thyret, our promo guru, coined a phrase that, maybe, embarrassed Mo however we actually loved saying it, particularly when issues had been going properly: “Mo’ hits! Mo Ostin!” That’s as near a cult of character he ever accrued and since it was stated in jest he maybe secretly loved the laudation. He really deserved it.

It’s one thing of cliché to say “we misplaced an enormous” when an important particular person leaves us however that’s what’s simply occurred. What an absolute privilege it’s been to be in his orbit for these years. The sensible artists who recorded for Warner Bros., Reprise and its associates gave the corporate nice music. Mo Ostin gave it his soul.

Bob Merlis was senior vice chairman of worldwide company communications when he departed Warner Bros. Data in 2001. Previous to that he held quite a few publicity posts on the firm which he initially joined in 1973. Merlis not too long ago celebrated the twentieth anniversary of his firm MFH (Merlis For Rent).