Gary LeMel Dead: Former Warner Bros. Music Head & Soundtrack Mastermind Was 80

The chief supervised numerous blockbuster soundtracks, together with “The Big Chill,” “Ghostbusters” & Barbra Streisand’s “A Star Is Born.”

Gary LeMel, the longtime movie music government who was as soon as dubbed the “Godfather of the Modern Soundtrack” for his supervision of blockbuster albums together with The Huge Chill, Ghostbusters and The Bodyguard, died on Saturday at age 80. He’s survived by his spouse Maddy and three kids. 

LeMel kicked off his government profession in music publishing and later artist administration, together with a three-year stint at Jerry Weintraub’s Administration III. However the job that will set the course of the remainder of his profession was his function at First Artists — the short-lived movie manufacturing firm shaped as a partnership between Barbra Streisand, Sidney Poitier, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen — the place he supervised the soundtrack for Streisand’s 1976 remake of A Star Is Born. Promoting greater than four million copies on the energy of Streisand’s Billboard Sizzling 100 No. 1 single “Evergreen,” the soundtrack launched LeMel’s profession in movie music, the place he would make an indelible mark over the following 4 a long time.

Born in London, on the age of 10, LeMel moved together with his household to Tucson, Arizona, the place he grew to become a member of the Tucson Boys Choir whereas additionally finding out classical piano and, later, bass guitar. He finally enrolled on the College of Arizona however dropped out to tour with jazz singer Anita O’Day, who had beforehand employed him as her bassist at an area jazz membership.

By the early 1960s, LeMel had moved to Los Angeles to pursue a profession as a performer, finally signing with Vee Jay Information, which launched his debut album in the summertime of 1964. However the emergence of The Beatles that very same 12 months (helped alongside by Vee Jay’s launch of their early album Introducing the Beatles) rendered acts like LeMel, who largely targeted on reinterpreting requirements, all however irrelevant nearly in a single day.

“Their record killed my album,” LeMel instructed the Los Angeles Occasions in 1995. “I was working Playboy Golf equipment, typically doing 5 reveals an evening and barely making 300 bucks every week.”

LeMel would discover a lot better success as an government at Columbia Photos starting within the early 1980s, when he oversaw soundtracks for The Huge Chill, Ghostbusters and St. Elmo’s Fireplace, amongst numerous others. On the facility of a soundtrack to spice up a movie’s field workplace, LeMel instructed Billboard in 1985: “[St. Elmo’s Fireplace] was dying at $25 million. When [its theme track ‘Man in Motion’] went to No. 1, the movie picked up 48% and is now near $40 million.”

The next 12 months, LeMel moved to Warner Bros., the place he would finally get pleasure from his biggest success with the blockbuster soundtrack to 1992’s Whitney Houston-Kevin Costner car The Bodyguard. Launched into the stratosphere by Houston’s monster No. 1 hit “I Will Always Love You,” the set finally offered 45 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling soundtrack in historical past.

As attested by longtime buddy and music agent Richard Kraft, LeMel’s success can partially be attributed to the distinctive perspective afforded by his years as a peformer.

“You hear the phrase ‘artist friendly,’” mentioned Kraft, who met LeMel within the late 1980s. “[But] because he himself was an artist, [he] really understood what makes an artist tick.”

The Bodyguard‘s huge success catapulted LeMel to the highest of the manager ranks at Warner Bros., the place he was promoted to president of worldwide music and named CEO of the studio’s Warner Sundown soundtrack label. However regardless of reaching the head of his profession as an government, LeMel’s 25-year break from performing had taken a psychological toll, as he instructed the LA Occasions in 1995.

“Now I always encourage people that whatever it is that you gave up when you were younger, that you loved, do it again,” he said. “You don’t have to do it all the time or be a professional, but you’ll feel great, and you’ll save a lot of money on shrink bills.”

LeMel adopted his personal recommendation by making a return to performing within the mid-1990s, and he finally launched a string of albums together with 1994’s Romancing the Display (Blue Word Information), the 1999 Bobby Darin tribute file Moonlighting (Atlantic) and the 2003 compilation album The Better of Occasions (Harmony). Throughout these years, his onstage banter grew to become a key a part of his act; Kraft recollects that in one efficiency, LeMel provided one in every of Kraft’s purchasers (who was in attendance) a scoring job in between songs.

“He really was [fun],” mentioned Kraft. “And even once we had been in battle with one another it was playful. I keep in mind when I was making Danny Elfman’s deal on Batman, the sum of money I was asking for, he responded: ‘What you’re asking for would make Max Steiner…spin in his grave.’”

Over the subsequent couple of a long time, LeMel juggled performing together with his day job at Warner Bros., the place he oversaw soundtracks for movies together with You have Received Mail, Metropolis of Angels and the Harry Potter sequence. It was his unimaginable decades-long observe file that in 2017 led the Guild of Music Supervisors to honor him with their second-ever Music Supervisors Legacy Award.

LeMel suffered from Lewy physique dementia in his later years, although even that didn’t maintain him from performing. Together with others recognized with degenerative mind illnesses, he sang with a musical ensemble referred to as the fifth Dementia band, which grew to become the topic of a current documentary.

“You could hear his voice break through all of the musical instruments and singers when he sang,” reads a tribute posted to the documentary’s web site. “Gary’s mic was always turned up.”

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