Over the course of the past year, the music industry has lost some of its brightest behind-the-scenes stars: corporate executives, songwriters, managers, producers, engineers, lawyers, promoters, inventors and more.
Between them, these individuals penned hit songs (“Crazy for You,” “Elvira,” “My Whole World Is Falling Down,” “The Way We Were”); helped launch important careers (Metallica, Prince, Little Richard); masterminded iconic cultural events (Woodstock); founded enduring labels (Stax, Impulse!); built empires (Clear Channel); created and/or produced iconic Broadway musicals (Hair, Dear Evan Hansen); helped popularize burgeoning musical genres (hip-hop, alternative rock); and even changed the way people listened to music.
While they may not have enjoyed the high profile or public adoration of their artist counterparts, these individuals played just as important a role in keeping the business humming – or at least dissecting it, in fire-breathing fashion. Some worked in the industry across decades and eras; others passed on far too soon, but left their mark nonetheless. Some created new and important spaces for underrepresented voices; others paved the way for those who came after them. They have been remembered as dreamers, visionaries and jokesters, and described as “magnetic,” “legendary” and possessing “a rock and roll heart” by those who knew and loved them.
To celebrate those who have passed on, Billboard is highlighting these often-unsung movers and shakers, all of whom made a difference in the music industry in ways both large and small, across every aspect of the business.
Here are the behind-the-scenes players we lost in 2022.