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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Bhaskar Menon, Who Turned Capitol Data Round, Dies at 86

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In 1970, Capitol Data’ enterprise was struggling. The Beatles, the corporate’s prime act, had been defunct. Hits had been scarce amongst its remaining roster. That yr, the corporate misplaced $8 million.

It wanted a savior, and it discovered one in Bhaskar Menon, an Indian-born, Oxford-educated government at EMI, the British conglomerate that was Capitol’s majority proprietor. He grew to become the label’s new chief in 1971 and shortly turned its funds round, driving a gargantuan hit in 1973 with Pink Floyd’s album “The Darkish Aspect of the Moon.” He later ran EMI’s huge worldwide music operations.

Mr. Menon, who was additionally the primary Asian man to run a significant Western document label, died on March 4 at his house in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 86.

The demise was confirmed by his spouse, Sumitra Menon.

“Decided to attain excellence, Bhaskar Menon constructed EMI right into a music powerhouse and one in every of our most iconic world establishments,” Lucian Grainge, the chief government of Common Music Group, which owns the Capitol label and EMI’s recorded music enterprise, stated in a press release after Mr. Menon’s demise.

Vijaya Bhaskar Menon was born on Could 29, 1934, to a distinguished household in Trivandrum, in south India (now Thiruvananthapuram). His father, Ok.R.Ok. Menon, was the finance secretary underneath Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru; the primary one-rupee notes issued after India’s independence from Britain bore his signature. Mr. Menon’s mom, Saraswathi, knew a lot of India’s main classical musicians personally.

Mr. Menon studied on the Doon College and St. Stephen’s Faculty in India earlier than incomes a grasp’s diploma from Christ Church, Oxford. His tutor at Oxford really helpful him to Joseph Lockwood, the chairman of EMI, and Mr. Menon started working there in 1956.

A proud British establishment, EMI managed a large musical empire, with divisions all through Asia, the Center East, Africa and South America. Whereas there, Mr. Menon assisted the producer George Martin, who later grew to become the Beatles’ chief collaborator.

In 1957, Mr. Menon joined the Gramophone Firm of India, an EMI subsidiary; he grew to become managing director in 1965 and chairman in 1969. Later in 1969, he was named managing director of EMI Worldwide.

Capitol, the Los Angeles label that had been house to Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee, was reeling from enterprise missteps and declining gross sales, and EMI put in Mr. Menon as its president and chief government. He slashed Capitol’s artist roster, tightened budgets and pushed for extra aggressive promotion of the label’s artists.

In 1972, Mr. Menon realized that Capitol was liable to dropping the following album by Pink Floyd, which blamed the corporate for the poor gross sales of its earlier albums in america. Mr. Menon flew to the South of France, the place Pink Floyd was performing and, after an all-night negotiating session, they agreed on a deal. Mr. Menon commemorated the phrases on a cocktail serviette and introduced it again to Capitol’s authorized division in Los Angeles, stated Rupert Perry, a longtime government at EMI and Capitol.

“The Darkish Aspect of the Moon,” launched by Capitol with an enormous promotional marketing campaign, was one of many greatest blockbusters in music historical past; it stayed on Billboard’s album chart for 741 consecutive weeks and has offered greater than 15 million copies in america alone.

Led by Mr. Menon, Capitol continued to have success within the Nineteen Seventies with Bob Seger, Helen Reddy, Steve Miller, Linda Ronstadt, Grand Funk Railroad and others.

In 1978, EMI put its music divisions underneath unified administration as EMI Music Worldwide and named Mr. Menon chairman and chief government. He remained in that place till retiring from the music business in 1990. From 2005 to 2016, he served on the board of administrators of NDTV, a information tv channel in India. In 2011, an ailing EMI was offered to Sony, which purchased its music publishing enterprise, and Common Music.

In some methods, Mr. Menon was an outsider within the Southern California music scene.

“I used to be a really uncommon and unlikely type of individual to be despatched right here underneath these circumstances to take total government command of Capitol,” Mr. Menon was quoted as saying in “Historical past of the Music Biz: The Mike Sigman Interviews,” a 2016 assortment printed by the business journal Hits.

Mr. Menon’s spouse recalled in a cellphone interview that after they married, in 1972, Mr. Menon instructed her, “There are solely two Indians in L.A.: Ravi Shankar and me.” She recounted tales of the 2 males — previous buddies from India — scouring town’s unique west facet in useless for good Indian meals.

Along with his spouse, Mr. Menon is survived by two sons, Siddhartha and Vishnu, and a sister, Vasantha Menon.

Though Mr. Menon was primarily generally known as a supervisor of the enterprise facet of the labels he ran, he had the respect of many musicians. Within the 2003 documentary “Pink Floyd: The Making of The Darkish Aspect of the Moon,” Nick Mason, the band’s drummer, recalled Mr. Menon’s efforts in selling the band’s breakthrough album, calling him “completely terrific.”

“He determined he was going to make this work, and make the American firm promote this document,” Mr. Mason stated. “And he did.”

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