Skip to main content

Nat King Cole Asset Rights Purchased by Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists Group

Iconic will "protect, preserve, and expand" Cole's legacy to new generations while managing his recorded music, publishing, TV shows and name and likeness.

Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists Group has purchased rights to all assets from the estate of Nat King Cole in a new deal with the singer’s family, it was announced Friday (March 11).

Under the agreement, Iconic will “manage, protect, preserve, and expand” Cole’s legacy to new generations. The deal covers a “broad range of rights” from his career, including his recorded music, publishing, TV shows and name and likeness.

The velvet-voiced singer and jazz pianist is known for a string of classic singles, including “The Very Thought of You,” “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” “Unforgettable,” “Nature Boy,” “Stardust,” “When I Fall In Love,” “Mona Lisa,” “L-O-V-E,” and holiday standard “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire),” which has been certified six-times platinum by the RIAA.

Related

According to a press release announcing the deal, Cole has sold more than 50 million records worldwide, and his catalog includes six platinum and two gold albums. In 1959, he won the Grammy for best performance by a “Top 40” Artist for the song “Midnight Flyer.” Following his death in 1965 at age 45, he was posthumously honored with a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Cole started his career as a jazz and classical piano player and signed his first record deal with Capitol in 1943. His debut album with The King Cole Trio was released in 1945 and hit No. 1 on Billboard’s very first album chart. His success helped lead to the construction of the iconic Capitol Records Tower in Hollywood, which became colloquially known as “The House That Nat Built.”

In addition to his musical output, Cole is remembered for paving the way for Black Americans in popular media. In 1946, he and his bandmates began hosting a 15-minute national radio show, King Cole Trio Time, making him the first Black musician to host a program of that kind. In 1956, he became the first Black entertainer to host a national network variety TV show with the debut of The Nat King Cole Show on NBC. His film work included roles in China Gate, St. Louis Blues and Cat Ballou.

“We’re delighted to entrust our father’s legacy to Irving Azoff and the team at Iconic,” said Cole’s daughters, Timolin and Casey Cole, in a joint statement. “Through the years, it’s been amazing to see how dad’s music continues to inspire and bring people together, and with Iconic at the helm, we know his musical legacy will endure and continue to grow.”

Azoff added, “We are thrilled that Nat King Cole’s family is trusting us with his musical legacy. He was a groundbreaking artist that influenced generations of artists that followed him. One of our true greats – his voice is instantly recognizable and an enduring piece of the fabric of our lives.”

In his own statement, Iconic president Jimmy Edwards said the company looks forward to working closely with Cole’s family, “as well as Universal Music Group and his label, Capitol Records to ensure that his incomparable talent continues to be celebrated around the world.”

Since launching in February 2021, Iconic Artists Group has acquired the publishing and recorded music rights to David Crosby’s catalog, as well as Linda Ronstadt’s recorded music rights. The group also struck an intellectual property deal with The Beach Boys encompassing the group’s recordings, brand, memorabilia and select compositions and acquired a controlling interest in their IP.