Dan Heilicher co-founded Heilicher Brothers, Musicland chain.

Dan Heilicher, one half of the pioneering independent record distributor Heilicher Brothers, died yesterday in Minneapolis after a long illness. He was 82.

Heilicher, who was a pilot for the Strategic Air Command during World War II, joined his brother Amos in 1945 in the jukebox operation he founded in 1933. By 1947, the two brothers had expanded the Heilicher Brothers operation into independent distribution, when they picked up Mercury Records for the areas of North and South Dakato, Iowa, Nebraska, and their home state of Minnesota.

In 1955 the Heilicher Brothers started the Musicland chain and then the company merged with Pickwick International in 1960, with both brothers staying with the business until it was acquired by American Can in 1977. After that, the Heilicher Brothers concentrated on the coin-operated machine business and real estate.

“The way the Heilicher Brothers worked, Amos was the idea guy and Danny was the nuts and bolts guy who put it all togther, explains Owen Husney, a relative of the family and a principle in Los Angeles-based First American Entertainment. “It was the most amazing, business-brother relationship.”

Dan is survived by his wife Phyllis, five children and 12 grand children, and his brother Amos, who is 88.