Paul Cooper, Longtime Atlantic Records and UMG Executive, Dies at 76

Paul Cooper
Courtesy Photo

Paul Cooper

Paul Cooper, a music industry veteran who worked in high-level roles at Universal Music Group and Atlantic/Warner Records during a career that spanned more than five decades, died on March 26. He was 76.

"I was saddened to hear of Paul's passing," said famed music executive and 12Tone Music founder Doug Morris in a statement to Billboard. "I have known him for over forty years, starting at Atlantic Records. He was a dedicated and a loyal friend. Truly, one-of-a-kind, and I am going to miss him."

Born August 26, 1943, Cooper was a Los Angeles native who cultivated a knack for spotting musical talent while attending USC. He began his career in public relations at companies including A&M, guitarist Trini Lopez’s Tri-Lo, Inc. and Monte Kay and Flip Wilson’s Little David Records before going on to Atlantic, where he was hired as national director of publicity in 1978 and eventually worked his way up to senior vp/West Coast general manager.

After 17 years at Atlantic, where he served as Morris's right hand man, Cooper moved into a short-lived role as senior vp at the label’s parent company Warner Music, which he exited in 1995. The following year, he was named vp at MCA Music Entertainment Group (later Universal Music Group), where he worked closely with senior management and coordinated special projects, including the company's annual Grammy party.

Through his early work with industrialist David E. Bright and Bright's then-wife Dolly Bright -- with whom he formed the public relations company Cobrite Corp. in the early 1970s -- Cooper developed an appreciation for fine art and became an avid collector. He coordinated several of Bright’s gifts to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which she helped launch with her donations in the late 1960s. He was also actively involved with a number of charities, including the National Council of AmfAR and Project Angel Food.

Cooper was preceded in death by his longtime partner, music executive Bill Schrank, in 2012. He is survived by his brother Lewis Cooper of Palm Springs.