Norman Winter, who in his long Hollywood career as a music publicist represented Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Janet Jackson, Garth Brooks, Paul Anka and many others, died Thursday in Las Vegas due to complications from Lewy Body disease, according to Allied Artists Film & Music Groups.
His age wasn’t revealed, at the family’s request, but Winters was said to have been in his 80s.
Winters served as head of publicity for MCA/Universal Records before leaving to form his own public relations company, Norman Winter Associates.
Among the artists he helped was Jackson, who Winters represented at the time of the blockbuster “Thriller” album.
Winter also worked on Jackson’s Victory Tour, his acquisition of the Beatles song catalog and his Pepsi endorsements.
Jackson’s longtime attorney and an executor of his estate, John Branca, said: “We are so sad to hear of the passing of our dear friend Norman Winter. Norman was a unique, one of a kind character who was dearly beloved. He was of great help and service to Michael and our team during the ‘Thriller’ period.”
Winter’s lengthy client list included Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Janet Jackson, Queen, Rick James, Barry White, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Who, AC/DC, Steppenwolf, Meatloaf, Johnny Rivers, the Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin, Christopher Cross, Bobby Ross Avila, Donny Osmond, Garth Brooks, Herb Alpert, Paul Anka, Phil Ramone, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Bootsy Collins, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Brian McKnight, Outkast, Usher, Jimmy Cliff, Steve Martin, Joan Collins, Arsenio Hall, Morris Day and gospel luminaries Jennifer Knapp and Deniece Williams.
Winter was also influential in the world of rap, working with such artists as the late Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Babyface and Bangin’ On Wax (the Bloods & Crips collaboration), Domino, Bone Thugs – N – Harmony and Eddie Griffin.
Among Latin artists, Winter worked with Emmanuel, Lucia Mendez, Chichi Peralta, Renegade, Luis Cardenas and the Golden Eagle Awards, among others.
His corporate clients included Virgin Records (Noo Trybe), Ruthless Records, 3M, The Lincoln Mint, The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS), ASCAP and BMI.
Russ Regan, former president of UNI Records, said, “Norman Winter belongs in the Press Agent’s Hall of Fame, because there was nobody better. He helped me make four superstars; Elton John, Neil Diamond, Barry White and Olivia Newton-John. I loved him with all my heart.”
Former Los Angeles Times music editor Robert Hilburn said, “Norm Winter was unorthodox by public relations standards–schooled in the ‘anything goes’ tradition of old-time showbiz PR rather than the more disciplined rules of journalism. Once he was on your side, however, he stopped at nothing to make sure the world heard and cared about you.”
Winter is survived by his wife of 45 years Joy, daughters Jennifer and Elizabeth and brother Alfred. Funeral arrangements are pending.