Tommy LiPuma, the five-time Grammy-winning record producer and veteran label executive, died Monday (March 13) in New York City after a brief illness. He was 80.
LiPuma served in key positions at almost every major recording company, and led Verve Music Group as chairman from 1998 to 2004. His productions have resulted in more than 75 million albums sold and 33 Grammy nominations.
Born Thomas LiPuma on July 5, 1936, the aspiring musician grew up in Cleveland and studied the saxophone at high school. He tried his hand as a barber before cutting to the music industry in an entry-level job packing records at a warehouse.
LiPuma relocated to L.A. to work initially as a radio promoter for Liberty Records, and he would tackle roles in publishing, record labels and in production, skilling-up on the music business from the inside. In the 1960s, he worked for A&M, and was involved in the founding of Blue Thumb Records with partner Bob Krasnow. While at those labels he began overseeing demo sessions, which led to becoming a record producer, eventually handling the boards for records by such artist as Paul McCartney, Diana Krall, Barbra Streisand, Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, Miles Davis, Natalie Cole, George Benson, Al Jarreau, David Sanborn, Earl Klugh, Everything but the Girl, Peabo Bryson, Randy Newman, Miles Davis and Dr. John, among others.