Former Motown CEO Jheryl Busby Passes Away

posted November 06, 2008 06:51:28 AM CST | 6 comments

On the same day Barack Obama made history by becoming Americas first African-American president [click to read], former Motown President Jheryl Busby passed away (Nov. 4) at his house in Malibu, California. According to the Associated Press, Busby was found deceased in his hot tub Tuesday, with the leading cause being an accidental drowning.

Born in 1949, Busby found his footing in the music business doing promotional work for Stax Records in the 1970s, which subsequently led to ventures with Casablanca, Atlantic, and A&M Records. In 1984, Busby was given his first major job as Vice President of MCA Records' black music division, which further established him as a legitimate figure in the industry.

When Jheryl Busby moved to Motown Records as CEO in 1988, he turned the suffering label into a resurgent hot bed of success, signing Boyz II Men and working closely with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie, and Queen Latifah.

His most recent work included the 2004 founding of Def Soul Classics Records, a division of Def Jam Records, as well as Umbrella Records. Busby also had a major stake in Founders National Bank of Los Angeles, Americas first African-American-owned commercial bank that was established in 1998.

R&B legend and former colleague of Busbys, Smokey Robinson offered his condolences on the untimely passing of one of Motowns most influential characters. I had tremendous respect for the way he continued the Motown legacy. My condolences to his family at this difficult time, said Robinson in a statement.

Busby is survived by his father, one sister and one brother, three children, and seven grandchildren. Jheryl Busby was 59.

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