Bruce Lundvall, former CEO of Blue Note Records and a key figure in jazz music, died May 19 at the age of 79. Blue Note president Don Was remembers Lundvall’s life and legacy.
It’s with a heavy heart that I write about the passing of our courageous friend and Blue Note Records chairman emeritus and longtime president, Bruce Lundvall. He was a beautiful, one-of-a-kind, larger-than-life human being whose joie de vivre was equaled only by his love for music, impeccable taste and kind heart. My deepest sympathy goes out to every one of you who knew him and loved him.
To say that he profoundly affected our lives is an understatement. In fact, it’s not out of line to say that there would be no Blue Note Records today without his herculean efforts to keep the label up and running during his 30 years at the helm. This was a formidable task: Running a company that trades in eclectic music and offers its artists “uncompromising expression” contradicts most conventional business tenets. Bruce fought the law, defied the rules and proved that serving the music and the musicians was beneficial to both art and commerce. Through all the struggles, he never lost his innate coolness, his sense of humor, his enthusiasm or his warmth.
When his health began to fail and I was hired to assume some of his responsibilities, he took me under his wing and extended a vital hand of friendship and support. Without his guidance, wisdom and stellar example, I wouldn’t have lasted a month on the gig! No doubt anyone who knew him has their own version of this story.
He will be sorely missed by all of us, but his spirit will truly live forever in the music that he helped to create and preserve at Blue Note Records. Thank you, Bruce. We love you.