Former EMI managing director Helmut Fest has died at the age of 69. Fest was surrounded by family when he passed away on Aug. 21 at a Zurich hospital, where he had been receiving treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Fest was born in 1949 in Cologne and got his start in the music business at the former EMI Electrola in Cologne. Following that he became manager of the Motown label in Germany and handled artists such as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and the Temptations. In 1976 he became general manger artist & repertoire international, and in 1982 he changed to the head of EMI Music in London and became director artist & repertoire and marketing Europe and International.
In the latter position, he was responsible for all worldwide activities outside of North America for A&R and Marketing. There he made deals with David Bowie, Joe Cocker and Tina Turner, among others. Since 1990 he was as managing director responsible for EMI for the territories Germany, Austria and Switzerland. From 1988 to 1991 he was head of the German Phono-Academy and honourably head of IFPI. In 2003 he started his own company Festplatte AG in Zürich, Switzerland.