Gerry Oord has died aged 96. He was widely regarded as "the godfather of the Dutch record industry."

Born in 1913, Oord virtually grew up in the record store of his father. It was in that period that he decided to start a record business of his own. Right after World War II, in 1946, he founded Bovema(Bot Oord Verkoop Maatschappij). Bot was the name of his business partner, who remained in the background.

Roel Kruize, who joined Bovema in 1961 and ran the company from 1972, tells Billboard.biz Oord was "a legend."

"He aimed for the acquisition and successful exploitation of labels," he says. "Gerry had very good contacts with British and American record executives and lawyers. This resulted in exclusive representations of labels such as Columbia, Warner Bros., His Master's Voice, Regal, Parlophone and MCA. Oord was the very first outside of the United States to close deals with labels like Motown and Asylum."

The way Oord acquired a license for the exploitation of the Capitol label describes Oord best, Kruize recalls. "During the festivities celebrating the end of World War II, he met an American soldier with an American magazine under his arm," he says. "This appeared to be a copy of Capitol News and Oord decided to write them a letter. He received an answer from Buddy DeSylva, artist and co-owner of Capitol Records. This led to the rights to sell and distribute the label in the Netherlands.

Oord was also very successful with Dutch acts like Johnny Jordaan, Peter Koelewijn (the Netherlands' first rock 'n' roll artist), the Cats and BZN. His local act George Baker even scored international hits ("Little Green Bag," "Paloma Blanca").

Oord also launched Negram and budget label Delta. "At the beginning of the '70s we had a combined market share of 34%," Kruize recalls. In 1972 Bovema merged with the Dutch office of EMI Records, becoming EMI-Bovema.

Oord was asked to become managing director of EMI Records in the U.K., while Kruize took over his position in the Netherlands. In 1976 Oord stepped down but remained active with the IFPI in the next few years.

Oord died April 9. He is survived by a son and daughter.

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