Music industry veteran Charles Koppelman, whose career spans five decades, died on Friday at the age of 82.
Charles Koppelman, a music industry veteran whose career spans five decades, died on Friday. He was 82 years old. According to his son Brian, co-creator and showrunner of the Showtime series Billions, “he spent his last days surrounded by those he loved the most.”
Over 50 years of working in the music business, Charles Koppelman has become an outstanding industry leader, working with such legends as Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross, Cher and Prince.
Charles Koppelman was born in Brooklyn in 1940 and began his musical career with the band The Ivy Three. With this group he achieved success in 1960 with a new jam “Hey, Yogi”, and Don Kirchner quickly hired him as a songwriter.
Koppelman found his songwriting skills eclipsed by Carole King, Barry Mann and many other collaborators, which led him to management instead. He managed Kirschner’s Aldon Music before it merged with Screen Gems and Columbia Music, and produced several early hits for bands such as The Monkees.
In the early ’70s, Koppelman joined what was then the CBS music division, in a role that spanned recording and publishing at April/Blackwood Music. During most of this time and his role as director of A&R at Columbia Records, he worked closely with artists such as Billy Joel, Janice Yan, Jornie and Dave Mason.
After working at Don Kirchner’s Aldon Music, with Clive Davis at CBS Records and at Columbia Records, Koppelman worked with the head of Sony Music Publishing, Martin Bandier. Together with Bandier, he co-founded SBK Entertainment, which was sold to EMI in 1988 for $300 million.
Koppelman worked with Steve Madden and Martha Stewart after leaving EMI in 1997. He returned to the music business with CAK. Entertainment, overseeing branding deals for Kohl’s with Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, and K-Mart for Nicki Minaj and Adam Levine, among others. After Prince’s death in 2016, Koppelman oversaw the estate’s entertainment interests for a while with Prince’s former manager L. Londell McMillan.
“Deals have a maturing period,” Koppelman once said of entertainment after so many years in the industry. “If you’re talking about Broadway or a movie, even if you made a deal today, (the project won’t be ready before) two years from now. And if you did it a year from today, you’re talking about three (or) four years in the future. How relevant will it be then? I’m not sure. The audience is growing every day, and the amount of attention does not last forever.”