He was 65.

Ray Anderson, a major figure in record promotion who rose to become president of Epic Records, died of an apparent heart attack Dec. 15 at his home in San Clemente, Calif. He was 65.

A native of Pittsburgh, Anderson got his start in the business at Hamburg Brothers, a local distributor. He joined RCA Records as a regional promotion man in the early ’70s and later moved to UA Records, before going to Columbia Records.

Anderson reigned over Columbia’s promotion efforts through much of the 1980s, eventually becoming senior VP of promotion. Late in the decade, he was tapped to head Epic Records.

A flamboyant and popular figure, Anderson is revered as a mentor for the many promotion executives who served under him. “He was a big part of so many peoples’ lives,” recalls Paul Rappaport, who was Anderson’s VP of album rock promotion at Columbia. Rappaport characterizes Anderson as having the leadership qualities of a Gen. George Patton and the “class and panache” of Humphrey Bogart.

Leaving Epic, he started a management company, Ray Anderson Entertainment in 1988, and enjoyed international success with his first client, pop artist Tommy Page. Anderson continued to manage acts, but resurfaced in the label world in the late 1990s as senior VP of radio promotion at Red Ant, a company launched by Anderson’s former Columbia Records boss Al Teller.

Anderson's career was clouded by his indictment in 1989 on charges of taking kickbacks from independent promotion man Joe Isgro. The case was brought to trial in federal court but the charges against both men and an alleged Isgro associate were later dismissed.

Anderson retired from the business five years ago. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and a son, Raymond. Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow (21) at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in San Clemente. Donations can be made in Anderson’s name to the T.J. Martell Foundation. Call 212-833-5444 for information.