Publishing Veteran Jay Morgenstern Dies at 87

Courtesy of Jay Morgenstern Family
Jay Morgenstern

Longtime music publisher and former ASCAP board vice chairman Jay Morgenstern died on July 4 in Los Angeles. The 87-year-old passed away peacefully surrounded by family.

“Jay was an incredible human being, kind, generous and simply one of the greatest publishers in the music business,” ASCAP president Paul Williams said. “He advocated passionately for the music creators that he represented and believed deeply in the power of a song to impact lives. He will be remembered by the many songwriters and composers whose careers he fostered, and the countless songs that he helped deliver to the world.”

After 27 years at Warner/Chappell Music, Morgenstern retired as its executive VP/GM, as well as CEO of Warner Bros. Publications. During his distinguished 50-year music publishing career, Morgenstern held prior senior executive posts -- including president and executive VP/GM -- at various record labels and publishing firms.

Those companies included ABC Records International and ABC Music Publishing, MCA subsidiaries Infinity Records International and Infinity Music Co. and Metromedia Records and Music Publishing. While based in London at one point, Morgenstern served as CEO of U.K. companies Anchor Records and International Music Publishing. He was also closely associated with several renowned Broadway musicals including Fiddler on the Roof and Cabaret.

Morgenstern, born May 3, 1930 in Manhattan, attended New York University where he earned a B.A. in business. He started his music industry career as an accountant for music publishers in New York’s Tin Pan Alley. A member of the board and vice chairman of ASCAP between 1987-2007, Morgenstern served on the board of the ASCAP Foundation from 2002 until his passing. His board service also included the Country Music Association, the National Music Publishers Association, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Henry Mancini Foundation.

"Jay leaves a great legacy within the music industry, specifically in the publishing and songwriting world," NMPA president and CEO David Israelite said. "Beyond his work on the NMPA Board, he is remembered for his friendship and his love of the businesses -- particularly his love of creators. We are grateful to have benefitted from his wisdom and tireless work, and our thoughts and prayers go out to Joan and the rest of his family."

A recipient of the Abe Olman Lifetime Achievement Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Morgenstern is survived by Joan, his wife of 66 years. Predeceased by his daughter Fran, he is also survived by his children Marc and Jill and six grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday (July 9) at 11:30 a.m. at Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills: Mount Sinai Chapel, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles 90068. Memorial donations may be made in Morgenstern’s name to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.