Renowned American record label executive Walter Yetnikoff is no more. The news about his sad demise at the age of 87 was confirmed by his wife, Lynda, on Monday (August 9).
Walter’s passing is being mourned by the entire music industry. He served as a guiding light to many superstar musicians during his career.
Having experienced a difficult childhood, Walter established himself in the music industry through sheer talent, hard work, and dedication. During his tenure as the president for CBS records between 1975 and 1990, he worked with several prominent singers and even launched the careers of many musicians.
Here’s a quick look at a few of them
Michael Jackson to Billy Joel – 7 A-list musicians guided by Walter Yetnikoff
It was under Walter’s supervision that Michael Jackson’s Thriller went on to become one of the biggest hits of all time. The song sold over 40 million copies.
He helped MJ establish a sensational solo career from Off the Wall to Thriller. The King of Pop even called him, “the best president of any company” at the 1984 Grammy Awards.
Similarly, Walter also played a pivotal role in Billy Joel’s music career. His fifth studio album, The Stranger, released in 1977, sold over 13 million copies. The musician was also thankful to Walter for getting him his publishing rights as a birthday present.
Barbara was another artist who worked closely with Walter. According to Irish Times, the singer “relied” on the CBS boss to make decisions concerning her music. He was involved in her biggest-selling album, Guilty.
Remember Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A from 1984? Walter was at the helm when the song was produced. The label sold over 20 million copies.
One of the most famous memories of Walter’s is of him pursuing Paul McCartney to sign a deal with CBS in 1982. Eventually, the former Beatle singer created Ebony and Ivory with Stevie Wonder under Walter’s supervision.
Walter also guided American singer, Cyndi Lauper, with her music career when he served as the president of CBS records. Her debut album, She’s So Unusual, became the first debut album by a female artist to feature on Billboard Hot 100.
A look at his personal life
Walter is survived by his wife, Lynda Kady, with whom he lived in New York City. The couple owned a dog named Alexandra.
The late music executive was married twice before he ended up with Lynda. His first wife was June May Horowitz, his college sweetheart. The couple had two sons together – Michael and Daniel. Walter and June were together until she passed away due to cancer.
He later married Cynthia Slamar. However, not much is known about their marriage or if they have any children together.
Walter co-wrote his autobiography, Howling at the Moon, with David Ritz. It was published in 2004.
Fans pay tribute on Twitter
Hundreds of fans took to Twitter to pay their respects to Walter after his sad demise. Here’s a look at a few of them
One tweeted, “RIP #Brooklyn-born rock star maker #WalterYetnikoff. He was a force to be reckoned with and I remember him well from my years at #CBSRecords in the 80’s. Sending love, light and prayers to his loved ones.”
Quoting him, another wrote, “”If you have one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow, you’re going to hurt your crotch.” – Walter Yetnikoff RIP”
Another added: “Sad to hear about the great Walter Yetnikoff passing, probably one of the all time great record executives, Built an amazing company, his book Howling at the moon is unbelievable, a Must read, RIP”