Former Blue Note Records President & CEO Bruce Lundvall has died at the age of 79.
Lundvall was battling a neurological disorder when he was hospitalized for surgery on May 19. However, he never regained consciousness, according to Billboard. His passing was confirmed by biographer Dan Ouellette, who wrote Lundvall’s 2014 biography ‘Playing by Ear.’
He had suffered from Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological disorder that primarily affects movement, for some time, and was living at an assisted care facility in New Jersey at the time of his death.
A self-professed “failed saxophone player,” Lundvall got his start as an entry-level marking analyst at Columbia Records, working his way up over two decades to become the president of CBS Records’ domestic division in 1976, where he set to work building the label’s jazz repertoire with the help of jazz legends Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock, Stan Getz, and a young Wynton Marsalis. He jumped around a few other executive positions before founding Manhattan Records where, after a merger with EMI America Records, he successfully revived the iconic Blue Note Records label.
Lundvall was a true music industry legend and ‘one of the good guys’ at a time when the guys in the music industry generally weren’t so good. He is credited with the success of many Grammy award-winning musicians, including Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Anita Baker, and Norah Jones. He also mentored and helped countless others, including Robert Glasper, Ambrose Akinmusire, John Scofield, Charlie Hunter, Dave Koz, Joe Lovano, Terence Blanchard, Al Green, and Bobby McFerrin.
Lundvall stepped down as president of Blue Note Records in 2010; eventually handing the reigns over to Don Was and taking on the title of Chairman Emeritus. Speaking about Lundvall in a statement, Was said: “Bruce was a one-of-a-kind, larger-than-life human being… His Joie de Vivre was equaled only by his love for music, impeccable taste and kind heart. He will be sorely missed by all of us who loved and admired him but his spirit will live forever in the music of Blue Note Records.”
He is survived by his wife Kay, three sons, and two grandchildren.