My name is Marvin Heiman and I was Curtis Mayfield’s partner and Manager for 30 years until Curtis died.

We owned Curtom Records and in late 1974 I met with Mo Ostin at Warners Bros., Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records, Capitol Records to decide where we wanted to go with Curtom since our deal with Buddah Recirds for distribution was up.

When I met Mo, Joe Smith, Lenny Waronker, and others in Burbank I knew right away. So, in 1975 Curtom was  now with Warner Bros Record. Neil Bogarts Casablanca Records was there too and Neil was going to handle our record companies promotion. Then, Neil left with his label but Mo gave me the okay to hire Black record promotion people in all of the major markets.

Mo was an unbelievable guy. Sincere, honest, and willing to go the extra mile for the artists.

Mo and Evelyn had me for dinner in there home several time as I continued to live in the Chicago area, I spent 5  days a month in Los Angeles. Mo gave me Joe Smith’s old office next to his with a shared bathroom.

Mo and Warner Bros Films came to me with a script “Let’s Do It Again” I loved it and sent it overnight to Curtis. His response was Let’s Do It!. We got the Staple SIngers to do the soundtrack and the album. Curtis wrote the  music and produced the album and the film music track. It starred Sydney Poitier, Bill Cosby, and JJ Walker. The title song “Lets Do It Again” was a smash record going to number 1 on the charts. It was a great movie soundtrack which at that time was Curtis’s second movie music, album, and soundtrack after the smash “Super Fly.”

Working with the Warners people was wonderful. Anything we needed it was provided. Mo became my Mentor and friend. His devotion to artists was unbelievable.

I remember when Mo and I were negotiating the Curtom/Warner distribution deal. The final agreement was  about 100 pages. My attorneys read the agreement and missed on a specific area and so did I  Mo had agreed to this as well., Within a few months this came up as something was to kick in that Curtom would receive another $170,000. It was not in the agreement. I called Mo and he remembered that specific area. He sent me a Warner check in full for the amount. That was Mo Ostin.

I could go on and on what Mo meant to Curtis and myself but I will end with Mo Ostin was an artist friend, most honorable man, and my friend.

Rest in Peace.

Marvin Heiman


From: Eric Greenspan

When I was a teenager, I read Rolling Stone Magazine from cover to cover and was captivated by the Warner Bros. ads.  They  their advertised  a compilation double album called the Big Ball for $2  (It introduced me to artists like Randy Newman, Captain Beefheart, Joni Mitchell, Arlo Guthrie, Norman Greenbaum,Van Morrison, Fleetwood Mac, Small Faces, The Kinks, Neil Young, James Taylor, The Mothers of Invention and  The Grateful Dead .  I still remember sitting in my bedroom and listening the  albums and reading the liner notes cover to cover and then going to buy records at Sam Goodys in New York on Monday (records were $5.99 but on Monday they were 50% off).  I still have my vinyl copy of that album.  

You mentioned that when their contracts end artists would leave their record company and go to Warner Bros.  When the Red Hot Chili Peppers left EMI Records they fell under Mo’s spell and released Blood Sugar Sex Magik.A life changing album.  Flea founded the Silverlake Conservatory of Music and in 2019 the Silverlake Conservatory of Music honored Mo.  

One other anecdote – when the manufactured Cop Killer controversy exploded, and the Warner stock price was taking a hit, the logical economic decision would be to remove the record from the catalog.  Mo would not do that.  Ice-T had the meeting with the label and said he appreciated the support but it was his fight and not theirs and so he asked Mo to remove the album from distribution  because it was ultimately his fight and not theirs and Mo would never ask him to pull the record.  Ice T was a mensch but I can’t imagine him doing that for any other executive other than Mo Ostin.  

An incalculable loss for the industry.



From: Hugo Burnham

OK…my story is so small – but it meant so much to me. Gang of Four were signed to WB (by Jerry Wexler) and they were so fantastic to us…especially Donna Russo and the NYC office. When we lost a bass player and a manager, we were talking for a bunch of them. Mo and Lenny invited me to meet in LA (I was the de facto manager in the interim). “We love Gang of Four. We will work with any manager you choose…but please, please don’t go with Bennett Glotzer.” Like idiots, we did. BUT – years later, I’d just got the A&R gig with Qwest (Q said, “I need someone who understands all that noiseywhite shit!”), and went to the WB Grammy party. I saw Mo…slid up to him, waited, and then said, “Excuse me, Mo, I’m…” he gripped my arm – 

“Hugo! Lovely to see you! Welcome back!”

I cried a little then. I’m crying now.


I was lucky enough to work at Warner Bros as a staff engineer starting in 1980 and worked with producers Lenny Waronker and Russ Titelman recording so many great artists like  Rickie Lee Jones and Randy Newman who could only have been signed and successfull at WB where the artist always came first. I only met Mo a few times , but he was always friendly and never “corporate” and from my perspective it was obvious that he set the tone for the entire label. His passing certainly marks the end of an era , and even tho the music business changed for the worse a long time ago, his death reminds me just how much it has changed . I’m glad I got to be a part of the great company he ran so well for so man years, and wish both he and it was  still around.

Mark Linett



Had to chime in on Mo’s passing.  He was truly a wonderful inspiration to all.

In ’73 after working for ABC/Dunhill, I had the fortune of moving over to Warner Bros. Records and starting in the Merchandising Dept.  At the time, we were located in the 3701 Warner Blvd building.  (Jack Warner’s machine shop).  I remember vividly seeing Peter Yarrow running through our building with tremendous excitement.  Mo Ostin & Joe Smith were at the helm.  Two totally different approaches; Mo the consummate diplomat and the nicest executive you would ever meet; Joe the ultimate toastmaster, akin to Don Rickles…without the insults. (most of the time!)

From ’73 to ’82, in my years at Warner Bros., it had to be one of the most exciting times within the music industry.  Transitioning from singles to albums!  Watching Mo at our various conventions was nothing short of a marvel. He always was able to finesse each event, so that all felt included.  It was truly a gift.  From our varied artist roster, to the top notch executives we interacted with each day, my drive from Santa Monica to Burbank, always had me in awe as to what was in store for the day.

Eventually, I became a Product Mgr. and one of the key liaisons with the label and mgmt/artists.  Seymore Stein/Sire, Albert Grossman/Bearsville, Mike Curb/Warner Curb, Andrew Wickham/Warner Country, and multiple artists on Warner/Reprise. (Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, Emmylou Harris…too many to list.)  They all had the connection and attention of Mo Ostin.  It was a privilege to work with and represent the ideal of what our label stood for: artist development!  Bob Regehr and Carl Scott led the charge.

In ’82 when the label did some re-structuring, the Product Mgmt dept was down-sized.  Mo had called me into his office to discuss the transition.  I thanked him profusely for the opportunity of working at the label.  I added one note of dismay…he asked “What’s that?”  I said, “I will miss my 10 year mark with Warner Bros. by 4 month.”  He said, “I’m sure you’ll be fine; you never know what the future will bring.”

He was right, as I spent the next 16 years at Geffen Records!  After closing the label in ’99, I had the fortune to work at DreamWorks Records (yet again) with Mo Ostin, Lenny Waronker, Michael Ostin & Robbie Robertson. Even though it was only 4 years until we closed the label, Mo was right…”you never know what the future will bring!”

I feel blessed to have worked with a true icon in the music industry.

Mo, you will be missed.

Robin Rothman




Hi, Bob.

I’d really like to thank Tim Palmer for such a genuine and

comprehensive tribute to Sandy Roberton. I’ve worked with Sandy for

the last fifteen years, emailing or talking almost every day. He was

always a great manager and he became a great friend. Everything Tim

said was spot on. He had boundless energy. In his final weeks, he

would CALL ME and apologize that he couldn’t talk for long because he

was rushing from one procedure to the next. We would discuss ongoing

projects but also commiserate about how annoying the music business

has become, how stupid Trump is, Brexit, Russia and on and on. I’ll

really miss him.

Peter Katis


Sandy Roberton is a cut above. When I was still super green in the music biz, just moved to NYC and working at Beggars Group in the late 90’s, Sandy would always make time when he was in town for lunch, which he always bought. I met him because at one time he’d managed Jim Rondinelli, the producer of my management client June’s first Beggars Banquet album.

I will miss his good humor and encyclopedic knowledge of the cast and characters in the music production world.

x Dick Huey


so sorry to hear this news

Sandy was a role model to so many of us in the artist management space.  After I left Ocean Way, I reached out to him. I knew his girls who worked at Worlds End and I thought it would be cool to work there. After the interview, he encouraged me to start my own co.

Earlier this year we spoke on What’s App. We were discussing getting some of his geniuses promoted.

His roster was like family to him and he was hugely proud of his daughter and family.  Sending love to you and his big circle of friends and family in Uk and US


Claris Sayadian-Dodge




From: Ava Raiin

I really enjoyed this interview. Melissa was my former boss (I sang backing vocals on the “this is me” tour) and this felt like nights on the back of the bus on the way to the next city.

Thank you for making space for her. She has impacted my life immensely thought I don’t think she even realizes it. She introduced me to a different perspective, from the art of performing and connecting with the audience, sharing music I

never heard before, sharing the Four Agreements which she follows (she even dropped one or two on the podcast: for example, what ppl think is none of my business/don’t take things personally ), she was always happy to share everything with us. The experience will remain at the top for me, and I’ve played a lot of tours, she holds a special place in my heart. Happy you got to share her brilliance with the rest of your audience.




Nelson George

Read a smart look at the release of #Renaissance on @ Lefsetz letter. Her fans will hate it, but it avoids the hype around the album. That news outlets now demand overnight reviews of major releases harms real criticism. It took years to make an LP. But it’s judged in one night.



From: John Rolfe

Hi Bob,

In 2018, I was following a Twitter discussion based on a Dig!Boston article about why Paramore should have headlined a day of Boston Calling in lieu of The Killers. The author openly came out for the fact that she wrote it in support of more female-fronted headliners. Some guy on Twitter responded to her with numbers and an analysis on how The Killers were more popular and how it made more business sense, essentially bulldozing all the arguments in the article. In return, the author alongside another Twitter user bashed the guy for “mansplaining”.

That same author now writes for Pitchfork, an entity who gave the new Beyonce album a super high rating (note that their ratings are allegedly collectively decided by the whole writing team).

Music journalism is in a terrible place, partially due to people like described above who indeed try to bend the world to their perception, facts be damned.


Thanks for providing the empirical evidence to support my contention in recent posts on Medium for Socially Drive Music. Over the many years, I’ve worked with some of the most acclaimed songwriters in the world, including John Lennon, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Edwin Starr, Tony Macaulay, BA Robertson, Tom Snow and many more. Diane Warren’s work embodies her love and kindness and is an antidote for racism. Her comment about Beyonce listing twenty-four people as songwriters on one of her album tracks is understandable, appropriate, and has nothing to do with race. I’d add that twenty-four people are not writing a song as much as they are contributing to a production.

Let’s stipulate that, where music was once a wellspring of creativity and inspiration, music being featured in “Top Hits” playlists today is predominantly a wasteland. It’s tantamount to yesterday’s “Bubblegum” music, but more pernicious due to its superficial or unconscious irrelevance to current events and its pervasive use of gratuitous profanity. Extolling Beyonce’s newest track, “Break My Soul” for its supposedly profound meaning about “The Great Resignation” is like arguing that Tony Orlando and Dawn’s “Knock Three Times” was actually a thesis about the merits of rent control. At least the latter had an original melody. Yes, Beyonce is a talented singer and her team can create enticing productions with a tip of the hat to House Music (Robin S “Show Me Love and Big Freedia “Explode”), but where are the new copyright gems that will be remembered and covered?

Stephen Love


Bad Bunny is much bigger. 

Only artist who has broken our website in the last 20 years during his onsale. 

Absolutely insane demand for this guy. It’s truly incredible. 

Kevin Vahidi

Senior Director, Venues & Promoters, Ticketmaster


From: Steve Lukather

There is NO entry level to the recording business anymore. You plug in the drum machine you are a writer. You roll a joint  in the room you are a writer. You say ‘YEAH’ . You are a writer etc.. AD NAUSEUM!

Some idiots think they are musicians cause they ‘play the drum machine’!

Please get a breakdown of who wrote what on that song. Name names. Details. Who wrote exactly what! I wanna know. Don’t you?

If in fact today’s rules applied back when I was a studio musician doing 20 some odd sessions a week back when human beings played together in a room and made music, or did a quick overdub post tracking, 98% of the time I was handed a chart with chord symbols on it and they count off the tune. NO rehearsals, NO demos. You better play something and something great. Create a hooky part as I did on shit tons of hit records.. ON the spot! Example. Human Nature by Michael Jackson. Track was done and there was no guitar. Quincy called me in and said ‘Luke ya gotta make this funky for me’ and I came up with the part you hear on the record on the spot. Turns out the writer my old friend Steve Porcaro hated my guitar part but it’s there for posterity. Q was kind enough to give me arranger credits and it got a Grammy nod but not a win for that category.

Fuck I should have gotten writers’ on ALL the tunes I played on by today’s rules and I would have Elon Musk money and would be writing this from my personal space shuttle from my own personal planet!

24 writers??  hahaha

That just shows you the greed and bullshit that exists today. It’s NOT racist. People negotiate the % splits BEFORE the first note is played. A  #1 record with 24 writers??? Being a tad sarcastic, that will net you like 42 cents each in todays market.

It’s EGO!!

Song comes on the radio and a person says ‘Yeah I wrote that’ NOT telling anyone 23 OTHER people did too.  What…did everyone contribute a WORD? Cause there are like 4 chord changes at best on any of these songs.

I dig Beyonce. Nothing personal here. It’s the CONCEPT this can even be done and that people get away with it!!!

I love Diane Warren, a friend for like 35 years. We have worked together many times over the years and she is an incredible woman and funny as hell I might add! If she is a racist then I give up.

She just called it like she sees it and she tells the truth. Truth hurts doesn’t it.

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