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José María Cámara, Iconic Record Executive in Spain, Dies at 74

José María Cámara, the towering Spanish record executive who was instrumental in the success of legendary acts like Mecano and Joaquín Sabina, has died. He was 74 years old.&nbsp…

José María Cámara, the former record executive from Spain who headed CBS Records, BMG Ariola and Sony Music Spain and who was instrumental in the success of legendary acts like Mecano and Joaquín Sabina, has died at age 74. The cause was a brain tumor, according to published reports.

Cámara rose from his role as an accountant at the newly-launched Discos CBS in 1970 to become a towering figure in Spain’s musical scene. Following Sony’s merger with BMG, Cámara became president of Sony Music Spain in 2002 and was later upped to chairman.

Jose María Barbat, the current president of Sony Music Spain, worked under Cámara for 10 years, between 1993 and 2003 at what was then BMG and recalls a boss who was “tough and demanding,” but who allowed his executives to make their own decisions and take risks.

“Those years made me the executive I am today,” says Barbat, noting that every Friday, the team met at a nearby pub after work, where Cámara had his drink of choice, Cointreau, and regaled them with stories.  “He professed such an admiration and respect for the artists. We had to go to every concert, every appearance. He said it was the way to show we were part of their family and their team, and that we couldn’t know an artist if we didn’t see them perform,” he says.

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In his final years, Cámara started a third act as a producer of theatrical musicals, but he was still widely seen as an industry leader and reference point. When Subterfuge Radio in Madrid launched its podcast Simpatía por la industria, devoted to industry executives, in 2019, its first interview was with Cámara.

On Twitter, singer Ana Belén called Cámara an “indispensable figure in the music industry,” while pop group La Oreja de Van Gogh said he crushed the cliches of what a music executive should be: “Passionate, respectful with artistry and affectionate like a good father. You were essential to our story, four riend.”