Ruben Rodriguez, Former Motown & Columbia Promotion Exec, Dies at 68

Ruben Rodriquez, a veteran record promotion executive whose career included successful tenures with Motown, Columbia, Elektra and his own Pendulum Records, died Sunday in his sleep. He was 68.

Ruben Rodriguez, Former Motown & Columbia Promotion Exec, Dies at 68

Ruben Rodriquez, a veteran record promotion executive whose career included successful tenures with Motown, Columbia, Elektra and his own Pendulum Records, died Sunday in his sleep. He was 68.

Known for his sophisticated sartorial style and affable personality, Rodriguez received the lifetime achievement award from the Living Legends Foundation in 2015. During that presentation, LLF noted of Rodriguez, “Since the very beginning of his 40-plus-year stint in the business, he was always dapper in appearance while remaining sharp in his professional focus on what would eventually afford him the moniker, ‘Radio’s Best Friend.’ This honor is being presented for the longevity of passion, integrity and creative spirit given so generously to an industry that has benefited tremendously from its donor.”

Raised in the Van Dyke & Tilden projects in Brooklyn, New York, Rodriguez began the first chapter in a 50-year industry career at the age of 18 as Northeast regional marketing and promotion manager at Motown Records. After running campaigns on behalf of projects by Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson, Rodriguez further honed his promotion skills at Neil Bogart’s Casablanca Records where he worked with a diverse roster that included Donna Summer, Cameo, KISS, Parliament Funkadelic and the Village People.

From there, Rodriguez advanced to senior vp promotion at Chris Blackwell’s Island Records (Grace Jones) and to the same post at Columbia Records under Clive Davis. At the latter stop, his promotional achievements earned No. 1 albums for George Michael, Terrence Trent D’Arby, Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys and LL Cool J, among others.

After exiting Columbia, Rodriguez pursued his entrepreneurial calling with the establishment of  label, Pendulum Records. The label made its breakthrough with the 1992 release of Digable Planets’ “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat),” which hit No. 1 on the rap chart and No. 15 on the Hot 100. The song subsequently won the group a Grammy Award for best rap performance by a duo or group in 1994.

While building Pendulum, Rodriguez simultaneously accepted another senior vp promotion post, this time with Elektra Records. Responsible for working the hits behind artists such as Anita Baker, Keith Sweat and Natalie Cole, Rodriguez helped forge the label’s hip-hop footprint in the early ‘90s through projects by Brand Nubians and Leaders of the New School, the group that brought Busta Rhymes to the forefront.

In addition to Pendulum, Rodriguez also operated label consulting firm Ruben Rodriguez Entertainment, Inc. and management company RAM Talent Group, Inc. One of the latter’s first clients was R&B singer-songwriter Donell Jones; later signings included Shaliek and Lords of The Underground. In 2003 Rodriguez was presented with the Joseph Papp Racial Harmony Award by The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

Preceded in death last November by his son Xavier, who worked with him, Rodriguez is survived by his daughter Erica.

Source : Billboard More   

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Primary Wave Signs Expansive Deal With Luther Vandross Estate

Primary Wave Music has signed a new deal with Luther Vandross' estate that includes a stake in the late R&B icon's publishing, master recording income stream, and name and likeness rights.

Primary Wave Signs Expansive Deal With Luther Vandross Estate

Primary Wave Music has signed a new deal with the estate of R&B legend Luther Vandross. The terms of the deal provide the independent publisher with new income stakes in a selection of both his publishing and master recordings. It will also give Primary Wave a stake in Vandross’s name and likeness rights. The new agreement is reported to be within the range of $40 million, according to Variety. Primary Wave declined our request for comment.

The new deal builds on Primary Wave and the Vandross estate’s long term agreement to manage and administer the late singer’s assets.

As a multi-hyphenate musical talent who worked in the industry as a background singer, artist, producer and writer for over three decades, Vandross’s new deal with Primary Wave includes cuts of publishing and master recording income from his production work for Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, and Dionne Warwick.

The deal also includes many of his top tracks from his own artist career, including “Never Too Much,” the titular single from his 1981 album which earned a no. 1 spot on Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and his cover “Endless Love,” featuring Mariah Carey, “Here and Now,” and “Dance With My Father.”

Born in 1951, New York-raised Vandross began his career when he was still in grade school, singing at Harlem’s famous Apollo Theatre four times before his high school graduation. Soon after, he became a renowned session vocalist, supporting several recording artists in the early ’70s before launching a career as a songwriter when he penned “Everybody Rejoice/Brand New Day” for the Broadway musical The Wiz as his first major gig in 1974.

Vandross then earned his stripes in the pop and R&B world as a writer and vocalist for the latter part of the 1970s, most notably writing the hook for David Bowie’s “Young Americans” and co-writing “Fascination,” and cutting background vocals for Bette Midler, Diana Ross, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and more.

By 1981, Vandross turned his attention to crafting his own artist career. With his solo debut Never Too Much he went from being known as a background genius to a platinum-selling artist in his own right. The album went on to earn him Grammy nominations for best new artist and best R&B vocal performance (Male) later that year, and Vandross continued picking up a consistent stream of Grammy nominations and wins for his work until his death in 2005 at the age of 54 due to a heart attack.

“Luther Vandross was a soulful American icon who was the voice of a generation,” said Larry Mestel, CEO and founder of Primary Wave, in a statement. “We look forward to working with Carmen and the estate to help expand Luther’s influence.”

Carmen J. Romano, a representative for Vandross’s estate at FBBM Entertainment Business Management adds, “We are delighted to join forces with Larry and Primary Wave. The LV Estate’s goal is to see Luther’s legacy continue to flourish and believe the partnership with Primary Wave is a clear step in that direction.”

Source : Billboard More   

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