Marty Thau, who discovered and managed the careers of the New York Dolls and Suicide, among many others, passed away in Petersburg, VA, at the age of 75 last Thursday, after complications from renal failure.
New York City native Thau, the self-declared "chairman" of the groundbreaking '70s indie label Red Star Records, was born on December 7, 1938. He began his industry career at Billboard, answering a classified ad for an executive advertising trainee in the New York Times after taking communication arts and business management courses at NYU. His cousin was married to Tony Orlando, whom he managed for a while before getting hired by newly named Cameo-Parkway vice president/general manager Neil Bogart at the Philadelphia-based Cameo-Parkway Records as a promotion executive, where he worked such records as Question Mark & the Mysterians’ "96 Tears," as well as records by Bob Seger, Donny Hathaway and the Ohio Express. When that label was sold to Allen Klein in 1968, Thau joined Bogart at Buddah Records, where his hits included bubble-gum records by the Ohio Express and 1910 Fruitgum Company as well as the Brooklyn Bridge, The Rapperz, the Isley Brothers, Melanie and Edwin Hawkins Singers.
After resigning from Buddah, he was one of three partners in Inherit Productions, a management/ production/publishing company that represented Van Morrison, John Cale and Miriam Makeba, among others. He then spent six months as head of A&R at Paramount Records under president Tony Martell. Stumbling one night into the downtown New York Mercer Arts Center, he caught a performance by the New York Dolls, which immediately changed his life. Wrote Thau in his unpublished memoir Red Star Chronicles: