Bhaskar Menon, global music industry giant, dies at 86

Bhaskar Menon
Bhaskar Menon. Photo: Capitol Records

Kerala-born Bhaskar Menon, a legendary figure in the global music industry, passed away at his home in Beverly Hills, California, on March 4. He was 86.

Menon was the founding chairman and CEO of the renowned label EMI Music Worldwide .

Menon was born in Thiruvananthapuram on May 29, 1934, to former Finance Secretary of India K R K Menon and Saraswathi. He is the nephew of former Foreign Secretary K P S Menon.

After earning his master's degree from Christ Church, Oxford, Menon joined EMI as a management trainee in London in 1956. In 1964, he returned to India and become the chairman of Gramophone Company of India, which later became the Indian subsidiary of EMI, which made HMV records.

Menon was named the managing director of EMI International in 1969, at the age of 35. Two years later, he relocated to Los Angeles, United States, to take the helm of Capitol Records in which EMI held a majority interest. He stayed in the position till 1978.

During his tenure at the EMI, Menon worked with a slew of renowned artists and bands including the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, David Bowie and Tina Turner.

John Lennon's circa early 1970s handwritten letter to Bhaskar Menon
John Lennon's circa early 1970s handwritten letter to Bhaskar Menon, then Chairman of Capitol Records, regarding the promotion of his wife Yoko Ono's new album and The Beatles not reuniting, is displayed at the Gotta Have It! Rock & Roll Pop Art Auction Press Preview at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC July 27, 2009 in New York City. Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images/AFP

He is widely credited for providing a breakthrough for English rock band Pink Floyd.

“Menon would go on to orchestrate a massive, company-wide campaign around the release of Pink Floyd’s 1973 album 'The Dark Side of the Moon' despite the band’s failure to break through to US audiences over the preceding years,” American entertainment media brand Billboard had said on his stay at Capitol Records.

The Dark Side of the Moon found immense success and became No 1 on the Billboard 200, giving a major break to the band and the company, which had a troubling time post the breakup of its top act the Beatles in 1970.

He was once termed the “man who runs Rock & Roll” by New Musical Express.

Menon founded EMI Music Worldwide in 1978.

After retiring from EMI and the music business in 1990, Menon founded the company International Media Investments in 1995, through which he made investments in major media and entertainment companies including Indian broadcaster NDTV. Menon was on the board of directors of NDTV from 2005 to 2016.

He is survived by wife Sumitra, sons Siddhartha and Vishnu.

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