George Berry, Music Wholesaling Pioneer, Dies at 89
George Berry, a music wholesaling pioneer, died due to heart failure on Nov. 27 in his home in Lafayette, La. He was 89.
Berry -- who is credited with co-founding NARM, the National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers now known as the Music Business Assn. -- began his career in the music business while working as an accountant in the early 1950s for the Hadacol company, which staged the Hadacol Caravan featuring such stars as Hank Williams, Minnie Pearl, Bob Hope and Mickey Rooney, to help promote its tonic. According to Berry family legend and an obituary provided to Billboard, Berry, a World War II veteran, was with Williams the night he wrote "Jambalaya."
In the mid-1950s, while working for the Lafayette Drug company, he helped form the Modern Record Service, an early rack-jobber, where he served as a VP. In 1969, that company was purchased by Transamerica's record division Musical Isle, and Berry worked for them until the company closed its record industry operation in 1973. The following year, he opened Raccoon Records, an independent record store in Lafayette, which closed in 2003.
In 1966, Berry served as NARM's president and awarded Frank Sinatra the organization's Presidential Award at its annual convention at the Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami Beach.
Berry is survived by Marion, his wife of 65 years, his children Michael, Beth and Patrick, and his three grandchildren. His son Patrick is a co-founder and co-owner of Six Degrees Records, a San Francisco-based indie label.