Paul Atkinson, veteran record executive and guitarist for the Zombies, died yesterday (April 1) in his sleep after a long battle with cancer and kidney disease. He was 48.

Paul Atkinson, veteran record executive and guitarist for the Zombies, died yesterday (April 1) in his sleep after a long battle with cancer and kidney disease. He was 48.

The affable Atkinson was most recently with Capitol's catalog division, but has also held stints as head of A&R for MCA, RCA, and CBS Records. Among the artists he signed were Abba, Bruce Hornsby, Judas Priest and Patty Smyth.

In his last major public appearance, he was presented with the Recording Academy's President's Merit Award on Jan. 27. The event, which took place at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, included performances by the Zombies, Brian Wilson, Hornsby, Smyth, Richard Page and Michael Penn.

Survivors include his wife and their two children, and a child from a previous marriage. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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