Howie Richmond, a giant in music publishing since the 1940s, died May 20 in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He was 94.
Richmond began his career in the music industry in 1935, working in publicity, before founding publishing company Cromwell Music in 1949 and scoring a No. 1 hit just a few months later with Stephan Weiss and Bernie Baum's "Music! Music! Music!" A year later he rebranded his company The Richmond Organization (TRO) and went on to sign such music heavyweights as Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, Bill Evans, the Who, Black Sabbath, Pete Seeger, Pink Floyd, and Shel Silverstein.
Part of TRO's success was its then-unprecedented campaign of mailing new releases directly to some of the most influential DJs of the era, by-passing record labels and growing the company's airplay that much quicker. The revenue and growing reputation of TRO allowed Richmond to expand into the U.K., Germany, France and Italy by the 1960s, setting up a truly global empire.
One of Richmond's enduring successes came in 1969, when he helped co-found the Songwriters Hall of Fame alongside Johnny Mercer and Abe Olman. The organization later honored him with its inaugural Abe Olman Publisher of the Year award in 1983 and its SHOF Founder's Award in 2009, and named its Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award after him, which was last awarded to Chaka Khan in 2011.
"We are grieving the loss of one of our own today," said Songwriters Hall of Fame chairman Jimmy Webb. "Howie Richmond was an innovator and titan in the field of music publishing, with a love of popular song, and an undeniable ear for a hit. He was a major philanthropist, and one of the kindest people anyone could be lucky enough to know. The Songwriters Hall of Fame extends our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of this great pioneer and gentleman."
Richmond is survived by a sister, Shirley Gartlir, five children, and thirteen grandchildren.