Producer Gil Friesen, right, and director of MOCA Jeffrey Deitch in April… (John Sciulli / Getty Images…)
Hollywood executive and music mogul Gil Friesen has died. He was 75.
Friesen, best known for his tenure as president of A&M Records and A&M Films, passed away at his Brentwood home on Thursday. Friends of the executive told Deadline, which first reported the news, that Friesen’s death followed a prolonged battle with leukemia.
After starting his career at Capitol Records, Friesen became the first general manager of the small privately owned music label.
He was instrumental in developing an impressive roster of acts including Sting, Janet Jackson, Cat Stevens, Joe Cocker, Amy Grant and Bryan Adams.
Once he was named president of the company in 1977 he expanded into movies and launched independent film company A&M Films in 1981, which led to him being coined the ‘ampersand’ in A&M.
He is responsible for producing a number of hit films including cult classic “The Breakfast Club,” “The Mighty Quinn” and “Blaze.”
Friesen also co-founded the Classic Sports Cable Network, which was sold to ESPN in 1997. After leaving A&M in 1990 Friesen joined the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1991 and also served as its president.
The mogul produced “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” a documentary focused on backup singers in popular music. The film was selected as an opening night film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.