Publishing executive and music historian Alan Warner died Jan. 27 in Los Angeles after a long illness. He was 78.
Warner spent more than a decade at EMI Music Publishing as vp and senior vp global catalog promotion. He also served as a creative consultant for EMI, Warner Chappell and Sony/ATV (Now Sony Music Publishing).
Warner was revered as a music historian and creative catalog marketer — his interviews with such legendary songwriters as Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, Kenny Gamble & Léon Huff, Gerry Goffin, Lamont Dozier, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, Neil Sedaka, Allen Toussaint, Dave Bartholomew and Charles Brown were used for catalog promotional purposes by publishers. He also compiled vintage song catalogs for a number of publishing companies, who then promoted the music to producers, music supervisors and ad agencies.
“Many of us in the Sony Music Publishing family share roots at EMI, where Alan was a treasured colleague and friend,” said Sony Music Publishing Chairman and CEO Jon Platt. “We are deeply saddened to hear of his passing, and are grateful to have known and worked closely with him. Personally, I will always remember his kindness and his incredible passion for songwriters, which inspired me and so many others in the music business and beyond.”
Martin Bandier, former chairman/CEO of EMI Music Publishing and Sony/ATV Music Publishing, worked closely with Warner for years. “Alan was a unique individual with an incredible historical knowledge of music, songs and songwriters,” he says. “At EMI, whenever we acquired a catalog or at managing directors meetings or board meetings Alan put together video highlights of that catalog for our team for their knowledge and as a marketing tool for the outside world. I’ve never met any with his depth of knowledge. He was a important member of the successful EMI team.”
British-born Warner began his career with EMI Records in 1961, shifting to United Artists Records’ London office before transferring to the label’s Los Angeles office in 1976.
Warner combined his love for music and vintage movies to produce a series of soundtracks for United Artists, including The Golden Age Of The Hollywood Musical, which included previously unreleased music from Busby Berkeley musicals of the 1930s.
That passion also led Warner to pen three books about vintage music and film: Celluloid Rock (co-authored with the BBC’s Philip Jenkinson), Who Sang What on the Screen and Who Sang What in Rock ‘n’ Roll.
In addition to his blog, The Door to Yesterday, which was devoted to music and vintage movies, Warner’s most recent project was writing the liner notes last year for Can’s Live In Stuttgart 1975.
Warner is survived by his wife of 42 years, Pat. The family asks that donations be made to the Gary Sinise Foundation or a charity of your choice.