He was nothing short of a legend in Canada. Gerry Lacoursiere, the man who launched A&M Records in Canada, died Tuesday in Windsor, Ontario. He had reportedly been ill for some time.
Heartfelt postings from those who had worked with him began to appear on social media, calling him “one of the good guys,” ” a great man,” and “one of the classiest people I’d ever know.” One said he’d “never heard a single bad word about Gerry.”
Lacoursiere, whose birth name was the rather aristocratic Germain Robert Lacoursiere, preferred “Gerry.”
In September 1969, he was hired by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss — A&M — to launch the Canadian division of their label, A&M Records. In October 1990, he was appointed chairman of the Polygram Group, overseeing the amalgamation of Polygram, A&M, and Island Records. In January, 1997, he retired from the music business and was inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame. He was also presented by the Billboard International Business Achievement Award by Billboard magazine.
More recently, Lacoursiere served as a director of Yangaroo Inc. (Musicrypt Inc.) from 1999 to 2007 and as a member of its advisory board.
On his birthday on April 14, music scribe and author Martin Melhuish posted this on Lacoursiere’s Facebook page regarding his tenure at Alpert and Moss’ label: “Under Gerry’s leadership, the company became one of the biggest players in the Canadian market and one of the most active labels in signing and developing Canadian artists.”
Former label owner Al Mair posted about the passing of his friend on his Facebook page. His company, Attic Records, was distributed by A&M, a deal he struck with Lacoursiere.
He told Billboard, “Gerry called me on his arrival in Canada to open A&M Records Canadian company. He had been with United Artists, which was the label my client Gordon Lightfoot was signed to in the US. I watched Gerry carefully select great people to become part of his team. Once their volume was sufficient, they became self distributed.
“They were my record label Attic’s distributor for nine years, and they were nine great years. Gerry was always graceful and fun to deal with, and I will miss him dearly. The death of Gerry, and the earlier death of Joe Summers, marks the end of an era in the Canadian business. He will be sorely missed.”
In the history of A&M tome online, Lacoursiere, then president of A&M Records Canada, is quoted as telling RPM trade paper, “I was such a bad [record] salesman, they made me a promotion man — and I think that basically turned out to be my mission in life.
“I got a kick out of taking a record, I believe in — not because it was happening in Los Angeles or any other market, but that I personally believed in, and going out and getting somebody to play it, and then finding out later that the consumer or the mass public was buying it — and that it was a hit record.”
In December 1985, Lacoursiere advocated for free trade policies in an article for Billboard (see bottom left):