In 1970, Capitol Records’ enterprise was struggling. The Beatles, the corporate’s high act, have been defunct. Hits have been scarce amongst its remaining roster. That yr, the corporate misplaced $eight million.
It wanted a savior, and it discovered one in Bhaskar Menon, an Indian-born, Oxford-educated government at EMI, the British conglomerate that was Capitol’s majority proprietor. He turned the label’s new chief in 1971 and rapidly turned its funds round, driving a gargantuan hit in 1973 with Pink Floyd’s album “The Dark Side of the Moon.” He later ran EMI’s huge worldwide music operations.
Mr. Menon, who was additionally the primary Asian man to run a serious Western document label, died on March 4 at his residence in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 86.
The loss of life was confirmed by his spouse, Sumitra Menon.
“Determined to achieve excellence, Bhaskar Menon built EMI into a music powerhouse and one of our most iconic global institutions,” Lucian Grainge, the chief government of Universal Music Group, which owns the Capitol label and EMI’s recorded music enterprise, stated in an announcement after Mr. Menon’s loss of life.
Vijaya Bhaskar Menon was born on May 29, 1934, to a distinguished household in Trivandrum, in south India (now Thiruvananthapuram). His father, Okay.R.Okay. Menon, was the finance secretary underneath Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru; the primary one-rupee notes issued after India’s independence from Britain bore his signature. Mr. Menon’s mom, Saraswathi, knew a lot of India’s main classical musicians personally.
Mr. Menon studied at the Doon School and St. Stephen’s College in India earlier than incomes a grasp’s diploma from Christ Church, Oxford. His tutor at Oxford advisable him to Joseph Lockwood, the chairman of EMI, and Mr. Menon started working there in 1956.
A proud British establishment, EMI managed a large musical empire, with divisions all through Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America. While there, Mr. Menon assisted the producer George Martin, who later turned the Beatles’ chief collaborator.
In 1957, Mr. Menon joined the Gramophone Company of India, an EMI subsidiary; he turned managing director in 1965 and chairman in 1969. Later in 1969, he was named managing director of EMI International.
Capitol, the Los Angeles label that had been residence to Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee, was reeling from enterprise missteps and declining gross sales, and EMI put in Mr. Menon as its president and chief government. He slashed Capitol’s artist roster, tightened budgets and pushed for extra aggressive promotion of the label’s artists.
In 1972, Mr. Menon realized that Capitol was at threat of dropping the subsequent album by Pink Floyd, which blamed the corporate for the poor gross sales of its earlier albums within the United States. Mr. Menon flew to the South of France, the place Pink Floyd was performing and, after an all-night negotiating session, they agreed on a deal. Mr. Menon commemorated the phrases on a cocktail serviette and introduced it again to Capitol’s authorized division in Los Angeles, stated Rupert Perry, a longtime government at EMI and Capitol.
“The Dark Side of the Moon,” launched by Capitol with an enormous promotional marketing campaign, was one of many greatest blockbusters in music historical past; it stayed on Billboard’s album chart for 741 consecutive weeks and has offered greater than 15 million copies within the United States alone.
Led by Mr. Menon, Capitol continued to have success within the 1970s with Bob Seger, Helen Reddy, Steve Miller, Linda Ronstadt, Grand Funk Railroad and others.
In 1978, EMI put its music divisions underneath unified administration as EMI Music Worldwide and named Mr. Menon chairman and chief government. He remained in that place till retiring from the music trade in 1990. From 2005 to 2016, he served on the board of administrators of NDTV, a information tv channel in India. In 2011, an ailing EMI was offered to Sony, which purchased its music publishing enterprise, and Universal Music.
In some methods, Mr. Menon was an outsider within the Southern California music scene.
“I was a very unusual and unlikely sort of person to be sent here under those circumstances to take overall executive command of Capitol,” Mr. Menon was quoted as saying in “History of the Music Biz: The Mike Sigman Interviews,” a 2016 assortment revealed by the trade journal Hits.
Mr. Menon’s spouse recalled in a telephone interview that after they married, in 1972, Mr. Menon advised her, “There are only two Indians in L.A.: Ravi Shankar and me.” She recounted tales of the 2 males — previous pals from India — scouring the town’s unique west facet in useless for good Indian meals.
In addition to his spouse, Mr. Menon is survived by two sons, Siddhartha and Vishnu, and a sister, Vasantha Menon.
Although Mr. Menon was primarily often known as a supervisor of the enterprise facet of the labels he ran, he had the respect of many musicians. In the 2003 documentary “Pink Floyd: The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon,” Nick Mason, the band’s drummer, recalled Mr. Menon’s efforts in selling the band’s breakthrough album, calling him “absolutely terrific.”
“He decided he was going to make this work, and make the American company sell this record,” Mr. Mason stated. “And he did.”