Charles Koppelman, former music director and chairman of Martha Stewart, passed away on Friday. He was 82. A cause of death was not given at the time.
His son, showrunner Brian Koppelman, announced the loss on his social media, saying: “I will write more about my father, Charles Koppelman, when I can. But all that matters is how much I loved him. And how much he taught me about every thing that matters.
The Billions co-creator continued, “He lived exactly the life he wanted to live. And he spent his last days surrounded by those he loved most. Pop, thanks.”
Koppelman began his career in the entertainment world as a member of the musical trio The Ivy Three, which had a Top 10 hit in 1960 called “Yogi”. Soon after, the singer and his bandmate, Don Rubin, joined the Aldon Music songwriting staff alongside Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.
From there, they formed Koppelman and Rubin Associates, an entertainment company that signed The Lovin Spoonful the same year it opened. When Commonwealth United bought the company in 1968, the two business partners continued to run it, before Koppelman moved to CBS Records, where he held several positions. While there, Koppelman signed acts such as Billy Joel, Dave Mason, Janis Ian, Journey and Phoebe Snow.
In 1975 he was ready for another change and founded The Entertainment Company with Martin Bandier and Bandier’s father-in-law, New York real estate developer Samuel LeFrak. Together they managed and promoted song catalogs and produced iconic artists such as Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross and Cher. A few years later, his son, Brian, discovered Tracy Chapman in college and introduced her to his father, who subsequently gave her a recording contract.
Koppelman, Bandier and Stephen C. Swid took things to the next level in 1986 when they founded SBK Entertainment World, Inc. founded and bought 250,000 issues from CBS for $125 million. The company eventually became one of the largest independent music publishers, playing a major role in the careers of Michael Bolton, Robbie Robertson, New Kids on the Block, Grayson Hugh, Icehouse and more.
In 1989, Koppelman and Bandier enter into a partnership with EMI Music Worldwide and start their own label, SBK Records. A year later they released their first platinum album at Technotronic’s Pump up the jam. They went on to sign talent like Jesus Jones, Wilson Phillips, Waterfront, and Vanilla Ice, just to name a few.
Koppelman remained in the music business for several years before becoming chairman of Steve Madden in 2000, running the company while the founder served a prison sentence for securities fraud. In 2005, Koppelman moved to Marth Stewart Living Omnimedia, where he was also chairman.
He is survived by his son Brian, daughter Jenny Koppelman Hutt and his wife, Gerri Kyhill Koppelman.