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John Fagot, Veteran Promo Exec, Dies at 78

Promotion executive John Fagot, who worked for Columbia, Capitol and Hollywood Records during his more than 40-year career, died Tuesday following complications from a stroke.

Promotion executive John Fagot died Tuesday at the age of 78 following complications from a stroke. Fagot was a beloved executive who worked for Columbia, Capitol and Hollywood Records over the course of his more than 40 years in the industry.  

“John was the consummate record man, beloved by everyone in the industry. But he was so much more than that; he was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend to so many,” Capitol Records said in a statement provided to Billboard. “He played an important role in establishing the legacy of Capitol Records and his contributions will endure. As sad as we are today, thinking of John can’t help but make us smile. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. John will be missed.” 

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Fagot got his start in the industry in the 1970s working in the mailroom for CBS Records in Atlanta. His career then took him to the role of promotion manager for Columbia Records, serving Atlanta, Dallas and the Carolinas. By 1984, Fagot became Columbia’s national director of singles promotion before being promoted to vp promotion two years later. Capitol hired Fagot in 1987 to take on a similar role at the label. In 1995, Fagot moved from senior vp promotion at Capitol to the same role at Hollywood Records.  

“Johnny gave me my first real paid job in the label world.  He was a boss, but he became much more than that,” recalls Dave Downey, who rose to vp of  rock/alternative promotion at Capitol. “Over the years his wisdom has effected every aspect of my life personally & professionally.  I learned how to he a dad, how to lead a team and how to just be a better person.  The world lost a legend, I lost a dad.  A kind, humble, funny, caring and honest legend.  I know he & Charlie [Minor] are up at the great LeDome in the sky laughing it up.  I miss him terribly.”

Gia DeSantis, who started at Capitol as manager of video promotion and rose to director of marketing, also remembers Fagot as a nurturing boss. “As a young woman starting my first job at a record label, John immediately put to rest any preconceived ideas that all men in powerful positions in the record industry had to be approached with caution,” she says. “He was a mentor who not only looked out for his promotion staff, but everyone who worked in the Capitol tower. I walked away from every interaction wiser and with a smile on my face.”

In a 1990 interview with music and radio trade publication The Network 40, when asked what makes a great promotion person, Fagot said, “You have to love music, and you have to love the music you’re working. But the most important thing is the willingness to work. You have to be very dedicated and willing to put in a lot of time and effort.” 

In the 2000s, Fagot began working for trade publication Radio & Records as senior director of digital initiatives. He also served as a consultant for peer-to-peer monitoring service Webspins.  

Survivors include his wife Lucy, children Mary and Chris and two grandchildren.