Arnold Gosewich, former president and COO of Capitol Records of Canada and former chairman of CBS Records of Canada, passed away Oct. 20 in Toronto. He was 85.
Gosewich was also formerly the president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association (now known as Music Canada) from 1973 to 1974, and worked extensively with the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. His awards include the Canadian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame and a Juno Award for Music Industry Man of the Year, both in 1973.
Canadian singing icon Anne Murray was signed to Capitol during Gosewich’s tenure as head of the label, which ran from 1969 to 1976. “Arnold was great … He was fair and he was a lovely guy,” Murray tells Billboard.
The “You Needed Me” hitmaker adds, “There’s a misconception that Arnold actually signed me, but he did not. I actually wrote in my book that Arnold signed me and I should’ve checked a little better.”
“Arnold Gosewich ruled the roost at an iconic label during the greatest era of our music business,” says JAZZ FM’s Bluz show host Danny Marks, whose early band Edward Bear signed with Capitol in 1969. “A strongman who didn’t micromanage, Arnold gave free hand to the visionary Paul White, and magic happened. This enabled Edward Bear to create both hit singles and lavish theme-based LPs, rewarding Capitol Records for their faith. We are forever grateful.”
Gosewich, who was born in Ottawa, entered the music business after graduating with an honors in business administration from New York’s Clarkson University. Fellow Ottawa native Harvey Glatt was his classmate and two later teamed up to open retail music store The Treble Clef in 1957. Gosewich then left the business before its expansion to join Sherman’s Records chain and rack-jobber covering eastern Canada.
In 1969, he became president of Capitol whose A&R head Paul White built a Canadian roster including Anne Murray, Edward Bear, Beau Dommage, singer/TV host Pierre Lalonde, Gene McLellan, and Victor Garber’s Sugar Shoppe, and distributed Canadian record labels Daffodil, Anthem (Rush), Aquarius Records (April Wine) and Daffodil Fludd).
Gosewich moved on to CBS in 1977 and stayed for five years, noted in FYI Music News as a period, “marked by significant expansion of the company’s manufacturing division and its Canadian A&R roster. One of the first significant changes he made was hiring Jeff Burns to head the A&R department…[whose] signings went on to sell well north of 30 million albums worldwide, catapulted by the success of Loverboy, Platinum Blonde, Gowan, and Dan Hill. Meantime, the Quebec branch achieved multi-platinum successes with Harmonium and Celine Dion.”
He then started a new career in the book publishing industry, becoming the Chief Operating Officer of Macmillan of Canada, Gordon V. Thompson and TMP Music Publishers in 1982. Seven years later, he became a partner in MGA Literary Agency for writers of books and film/TV. He established his own agency and book publishing consulting company in 1992.
As an agent, Gosewich represented about 30 clients primarily non-fiction. “He was instrumental in getting me a publishing deal for my book [2009’s All of Me] after all those years,” Murray tells Billboard. “But in the 70s, those were the busiest years of my career between ’70 and ’80. And so I didn’t see a lot of Arnold but we saw him on social occasions and record company things and I knew his wife, Jackie. I found him to be a very pleasant guy. I always enjoyed working with him and so did my manager [Leonard Rambeau] at the time.”
Gosewich also represented Murray’s collaborator Michael Posner for his upcoming book on Leonard Cohen, comprising untold stories from those who knew the late songwriting legend.
Musician, photographer, and radio host Bill King, who was signed to Capitol during Gosewich’s tenure, tells Billboard he would meet with Gosewich about his own book ideas.
“Arnold approached me four years ago to write a celebrity memoir — a book of recollections of iconic musicians I’d either worked with or met. He liked the way me and the written page got along. We’d meet every month or so for coffee and chat. Those conversations veered mostly into business of which I have little experience other than survival. There was a lot of fatherly advice in those sit downs. “How are you going to make money doing that” — conversations. Amongst the advice and prodding were long journeys into Canada’s music past and Arnold’s role in that.
“Arnold forgot I was signed to Capitol when he was president. Over time Arnold began to feel like family. I met his wife Jackie learned about his son and daughter — then it dawned on me this man really cares for me. I told Arnold the book I really wanted to make was a book of interviews with the icons of the Canadian music industry — radio, print, photography, music journalists … Arnold stuck to his celebrity memoir idea which really isn’t me. A month ago Arnold called me and asked about the interview book. “Did you include me?” I told Arnold there was no way he would be excluded.”
Due to the Jewish holiday, memorial information will be listed on the Benjamin’s Park Memorial Chapel website after 9 p.m. (Oct.22).