Gary LeMel, Film Music Supervision Giant and Pop-Jazz Singer, Dies at 80

by Lionel Casey

Gary LeMel, a longtime president of music at Warner Bros. Pictures whom the Los Angeles Times once called “the father of the compilation soundtrack album,” died July 6 after a battle with Parkinson’s ailment. He was eighty.

Film agent Richard Kraft referred to as him “a real giant within the film track enterprise.” Songwriters Hall of Fame member Steve Dorff defined LeMel as “a perfect trackman (and) a true friend who made an indelible contribution to my profession.” Tom Sturges, a former top exec at Universal Music and different publishing organizations, called him “one of the fantastic track execs within the movie business, ever. He handled me with the finest admire at every assembly, took every call, and listened to every tune and artist I pitched him. Truly one among a type.”

Gary LeMel, Film Music Supervision Giant and Pop-Jazz Singer, Dies at 80 3

LeMel’s spouse of virtually 47 years, Maddy LeMel, a visible artist, instructed Variety she turned into staggered with the aid of the number of testimonials coming in.

“It’s wild, due to the fact we’ve been married nearly forty-seven years subsequent month, and you observed you realize the character you’re dwelling with and what they’ve accomplished,” she stated Friday, the day after an own family-only funeral become held. “It was mind-boggling. I always knew he became loved due to the fact at a checkout stand, and humans would listen to the call LeMel and say, ‘Are you related? Oh my God, I love him.’ They could say he’s one of the best executives in the industry — each industry, film, and song — that changed into in reality a pleasant guy, or, in their language, wasn’t a (jerk). So this is a stunning announcement. I sincerely seriously had no concept how many human beings’ lives he touched until this occurred.”

LeMel became a jazz recording artist in his very own right for a long time, and he had now not let infection keep him away from making music. After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010, LeMel went on to sign up for the Fifth Dementia, a waggishly named jazz institution made up of people living with dementia.

One of LeMel’s remaining and most prestigious public appearances came in 2017 when he became commemorated with the Guild of Music Supervisors’ Legacy Award at their annual accumulating at the Theatre at Ace Hotel (an event at which he is pictured, above).

At Warner Bros., LeMel has become referred to as “the godfather of the modern soundtrack” with successes which include the “Batman,” “Matrix,” “Harry Potter” and “Ocean’s Eleven” movies amongst his credit, not to mention one of the most a hit soundtrack albums of all time, “The Bodyguard.”

Before becoming a member of Warner Bros., LeMel became a VP at Jerry Weintraub’s control corporation. He changed into working at First Artists Music while he turned into requested to be the tune manager on Barbra Streisand’s “A Star Is Born” assignment, resulting in one of the biggest soundtrack albums of the Seventies. A stint at Neil Bogart’s Boardwalk followed earlier than LeMel moved directly to Columbia Pictures, in which he worked on the soundtracks for “Ghostbusters,” “The Big Chill,” and “Against All Odds.” In his lengthy career at WB, starting in 1986 and lasting for 23 years, he labored on track-heavy movies like “Space Jam” and “Singles” in addition to “The Bodyguard.”

“He made the soundtrack, so I am vital to the movie as a device,” says Maddy LeMel. It turned mainly in the course of his tenure that studios realized that “if they released the soundtrack earlier as they commonly did, it made people need to move to see the film, so it became a wonderful have an impact on price tag income. ‘The Big Chill’ turned into a monumental-promoting soundtrack that was an outstanding example of that…. They said that while he got the Guild of Music Supervisors’ (Legacy) award, he labored on over 500 movies. I approximately fell off my chair when they said that — and I think he did too. However, a person had tracked it.”

As a recording artist, though, LeMel’s profession stretches a good deal similarly lower back. His first album got here out on the VeeJay label in 1964, across the identical time the Beatles had a release at the imprint. “Their record killed my album,” he instructed the Los Angeles Times in 1995 while admitting that his vintage-faculty pop style didn’t stand tons of a hazard in opposition to the British rock invasion. “I become running Playboy golf equipment, sometimes doing five indicates a night and barely making 300 bucks a week.”

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