Music industry icon Charles Koppelman of Roslyn Harbor dies at 82

Music industry icon Charles Koppelman of Roslyn Harbor dies at 82
Charles Koppelman (second to the left). The Roslyn Harbor resident and longtime music and entertainment industry executive died of cancer on Nov. 25 at 82. (Photo courtesy of The Island 360's archives)

Charles Koppelman, a Roslyn Harbor resident and longtime music and entertainment industry executive, died of cancer Nov. 25 at 82, his family announced.

Koppelman worked with many artists, including Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, the Lovin’ Spoonful, Tracy Chapman, Wilson Phillips and Vanilla Ice. He was the chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and also held executive positions at EMI and Steve Madden.

“He lived exactly the life he wanted to live,” his son Brian Koppelman, co-creator of the Showtime series “Billions,” posted. “And he spent his last days surrounded by those he loved the most.”

Koppelman was born in Brooklyn on March 30, 1940. As a member of the vocal group The Ivy Three, they created a hit in 1960 with “Yogi,” named after the cartoon character Yogi Bear. It peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Soon after Koppelman and his bandmate, Don Rubin, joined Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil on Aldon Music’s songwriting staff. They later founded Koppelman and Rubin Associates, an entertainment firm that signed The Lovin’ Spoonful the same year it debuted.

When Commonwealth United bought the company in 1968, the two partners stayed and ran it until Koppelman moved on to CBS Records. During his tenure, Koppelman signed Billy Joel, Dave Mason, Janis Ian, Journey and Phoebe Snow.

He founded The Entertainment Company in 1975 with Martin Bandier and Bandier’s father-in-law, New York real estate developer Samuel LeFrak. They managed and promoted song catalogs, as well as produced the work of artists such as Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross and Cher.

Koppelman, Bandier and Stephen C. Swid formed SBK Entertainment World Inc. in 1986 and paid $125 million for 250,000 songs owned by CBS. Notable tracks he purchased included “Over the Rainbow” and “New York, New York.”

The company grew to be one of the largest independent music publishers. It influenced the careers of Michael Bolton, Robbie Robertson, New Kids on the Block, Grayson Hugh, Icehouse and others.

Koppelman and Bandier formed a partnership with EMI Music Worldwide and launched their own label, SBK Records, in 1989. One year later, with Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam,” they received their first platinum album. They signed artists such as Jesus Jones, Wilson Phillips, Waterfront and Vanilla Ice.

Koppelman later became the chairman of Steve Madden in 2000. He led the company while its founder was imprisoned for securities fraud. He went to Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in 2005, where he also served as chairman.

Koppelman was the CEO of CAK Entertainment at the time of his death.

His second wife, Gerri Kyhill Koppelman, and his three children from his first marriage with Brenda Koppelman, Brian, Stacy and Jennifer, survive him.




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