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Bhaskar Menon, Indian-Origin Record Label Exec, Passes Away at 86

Born in Kerala and rising to helm key roles in the success of artists such as Pink Floyd in the U.S., Menon was founding chairman and CEO at EMI Music Worldwide

Rolling Stone India Mar 06, 2021

Bhaskar Menon. Photo: Courtesy of Capitol Records

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A key figure in the record label world in the U.S. for over three decades, Bhaskar Menon passed away at his home in Beverly Hills on March 4th, Billboard reports.

Climbing up to the position of CEO and president of Los Angeles-based Capitol Records since 1971, Menon is widely credited to be the man who created a breakthrough for rock legends Pink Floyd, with their 1973 seminal record The Dark Side of the Moon. Menon would go on to work with a host of top-tier artists at Capitol as well as when he became founding chairman of EMI Music Worldwide in 1978. 

“Determined to achieve excellence, Bhaskar Menon built EMI into a music powerhouse and one of our most iconic, global institutions. Music and the world have lost a special one. Our hearts go out to his loved ones,” Universal Music Group chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge said in a statement. 

Born in Thiruvananthapuram and also said to be hailing from the Palakkad region in Kerala, Menon graduated from the Doon School and went on to study at Oxford University for his Master’s degree before joining EMI in London. Although he returned to India to manage EMI’s Indian subsidiary in 1964, Menon became head of Capitol in December 1971, with the release of the Concert for Bangladesh album, the live recording of the legendary concert that featured the likes of George Harrison, Ravi Shankar and Bob Dylan. The album was launched within five months of the concert, which was acknowledged to be a legal feat considering the large number of artists involved and the different record labels they were contracted to.

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Once termed as the “Man who runs Rock & Roll” by New Musical Express, Menon — with his run at Capitol and later EMI Music Worldwide — would go on to work with heavyweights such as Sammy Hagar, David Bowie, Blondie, Pet Shop Boys, Queen, Beastie Boys, Megadeth, Billy Idol and Red Hot Chili Peppers, amongst several more. 

Menon retired from EMI and the music business in 1990. And in 1995 he set up his own company, International Media Investments Incorporated. Based out of Beverly Hills, the company invests in media around the world, including NDTV in India. 

According to Billboard, Menon is survived by his wife Sumitra, sons Siddhartha and Vishnu and sister Vasantha Menon.

 

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