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Obituaries

Nik Venet; Talent Scout Discovered Beach Boys

January 10, 1998|STEVE HOCHMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

LOS ANGELES — Nik Venet, credited with discovering the Beach Boys for Capitol Records, has died of complications from treatment for Burkitt's lymphoma. He was 61.

Venet died Jan. 2 at County-USC Medical Center, said Susan Crawford, his partner in the independent Evening Star Records company.

Born Nikolas Kostantinos Venetoulis on Dec. 3, 1936, in Baltimore, Venet began his career at 17 as a writer in New York's famed Brill Building pop song factory, where he rented a small office with Bobby Darin. He moved to Los Angeles at 19.

In 1962 he came in contact with the Beach Boys through Murry Wilson, who was managing the band that consisted of his sons Brian, Carl and Dennis, along with their cousin Mike Love and neighbor Al Jardine. The surf culture the group celebrated in their independent single "Surfin' " was just a minor Southern California phenomenon, but Venet took the Beach Boys into the studio and oversaw the group's first albums, an experience Brian Wilson has credited with helping him learn the craft of production.

Among the acts Venet subsequently signed at Capitol were Lou Rawls, Glen Campbell, Jim Croce, the Stone Poneys (a folk trio featuring a young Linda Ronstadt) and John Stewart (whose "Daydream Believer" was a big hit for the Monkees).

In the 1970s he helped found United Artist Records, working with performers ranging from Don McLean (Venet was executive producer of his "American Pie") to Frank Zappa.

He is survived by his longtime companion Harriet Schock; his son, Nick Venet Jr. of Los Angeles; brothers Ted and Steve Venetoulis; a sister, Elenie Venetoulis; and his mother, Flora Venetoulis.

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