'A True Legend': Bob Krasnow's Legacy Celebrated by Colleagues


Following his death on Dec. 11, former Elektra Records chairman Bob Krasnow is being remembered by friends and colleagues as one of the industry’s most brilliant, savvy and insightful label executives. Credited for bringing Elektra back to powerhouse status after joining the company in 1983, Krasnow also founded Blue Thumb Records, served as the head of talent acquisition at Warner Bros. and co-founded the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Among those paying tribute to Krasnow:

Sylvia Rhone, who succeeded him as chairman/CEO of Elektra Entertainment Group, 1994-2004: I worked for Bob Krasnow at Elektra Records as a director of marketing for black music. Then I went to Atlantic before coming back to Elektra as chairman/CEO. Krasnow really was a true legend in every sense of the word. He was way ahead of the curve on identifying new talent and championing groundbreaking artists; an extraordinary man with very eclectic taste in artists and music that became mainstream. When you look at the careers of Tracy Chapman, Bjork, Metallica, Anita Baker, the Cure, 10,000 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant … those were acts that not many label heads were identifying. Even when he did the Natalie Cole [Unforgettable] and Linda Ronstadt [What’s New] albums: those were all unique projects creatively that set a high bar for everybody else. I was the beneficiary of his great work when I stepped into his shoes and the roster I inherited from him was undeniable. All of those artists had amazing respect for Krasnow. What a way to walk into a company with a roster like that.

Sire Records co-founder/chairman and Warner Bros. Records VP Seymour Stein: Bob spent more years in music than most; starting in his early 20's in the 1950's as King label's branch manager in San Francisco…King boss, Syd Nathan, praised him as the best music man in all of his operation.  He was more than just a sales man, but excelled in promotion and A&R. He had a special relationship with James Brown, which ran hot and cold, but lasted for a long time and with mutual respect. 

Bob was one of the longest-serving music men in history and had success just about everywhere he went during his career. Bob was also one of the first to help start up the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Jann Wenner, Ahmet Ertegun, Allen Grubman and myself. [Am] still grateful for the many experiences I had with him, both musically and with culinary delights. He was a great expert in food and I had many memorable meals with him. Bob was quite a good cook and one of the few that chef Roger Verge allowed in the kitchen.  

To sum up my thoughts, as I wake up Tuesday morning [Dec. 13] in my hotel in Mumbai: A Bob Krasnow doesn't come along once in a lifetime. Bob Krasnow came once. Those who got to know him will attest to that and overall we all benefited by his presence, his talent and just by knowing him.

Charles Koppelman, veteran music industry executive and co-manager of Prince’s entertainment assets: The first time I played Tracey Chapman in demo form, [Krasnow] got it instantly, and that's the reason I signed her to Elektra.

Bob Hurwitz, former president of Warner Music imprint Nonesuch Records: Few people in the music business can be said to have made a profound impact on the destiny of a company. Fewer still could be said to have an impact on two different companies. Bob Krasnow, who passed away last night, had a profound impact on four different record companies in his career [Elektra, Blue Thumb, Warner Bros., Nonesuch].

There were two golden ages at Elektra: the first was the Jac Holzman years; the second was the Bob Krasnow years. Nonesuch's sustained existence would have been unimaginable without [Bob's] deep support and love of the music we were releasing.

We will all say more about Bob in the upcoming days, but a few things should be noted. First, he had a big personality, and it wasn't always the easiest personality. Second, he was a brilliant man, whose range of interests was as wide as anyone I've known in a position like that. Third, in terms of skill set, I never met anyone who combined a knowledge of A&R, promotion and marketing like he did. Without Bob, there would not be a Blue Thumb. Warners would have been a different company. The experience of Elektra in the '80s and '90s would not have been possible. And Nonesuch ...well, it might have stayed a small and interesting budget label. This is what Bob Krasnow did.