Industry Top Trumps: Walter Yetnikoff
Sex, drugs and rock & roll is how the famous cliche’ goes.
But this wasn’t the lifestyle of a rockstar – it was in fact the lifestyle of a Brooklyn born record label CEO.
Yetnikoff was Head Lawyer at CBS Records, until Clive Davis was fired for allegations of fraud & embezzlement. Walter would then become Head of CBS Records, helping them to become the biggest label in the country.
Yetnikoff became friends with infamous Jewish mobster & label owner Morris Levy, after he was sent by the company to collect a $400k debt from him.
Walter was notrious for paying mobsters linked to John Gotti & other Gambino mob members ,who referred to themselves as “independent radio promoters” to play his artists records. It’s alleged that millions of dollars would be paid to them through his reign at CBS, up until their sale to Columbia in 1990.
CBS would engage in a fierce rivalry with Warner.
Yetnikoff would take artist manager Tommy Mottola under his wing, describing him as his best friend and brother, however Mottola usurped him as Head of Columbia with the help of lawyer Alan Grubman & David Geffen.
They influenced Michael Jackson to fire his manager and replace him with members connected to their law firm. Their plan was to get Michael to leave CBS and move to Geffen Records – who were owned by fierce rivals Warner at the time.
“Norio Ogha, the man I made wealthy gave me the news standing up. ‘The board of directors has met and decided that you should take a sabbatical’ He didn’t shake my hand, he didn’t use the work ‘fired’, he simply vanished. ‘Please exit through the side door’ a security guard told me. Later I learned that in the adjoining room, Ogha was meeting with Mottola, already planning the new regime” – From the book – Howling From The Moon
Posted on April 8, 2011, in History, Music Industry, Record Labels and tagged cbs records, david geffen, mafia, michael jackson, payola, tommy mottola, walter yetnikoff, warner records. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.