Sunday, 27 September 2009

Obituary: Skip Miller / Former president of Motown Records

Skip Miller, a Los Angeles music industry veteran who rose from stock clerk to president of Motown Records and helped rejuvenate the black music division at RCA Records, has died. He was 62.
Mr. Miller, who also managed Lionel Richie's solo career, was being treated for an enteral infection when he died of a heart attack Sept. 4 at a Los Angeles hospital, his family announced.
He was a Vietnam stager with a degree in chemistry when he joined Motown Records in 1971 and was quickly promoted to various management positions in sales, marketing and artist relations.
Elevated from vice president to president in 1987, he oversaw the company during a major reorganization in which it tried to regain a leadership role in black music. But company founder Berry Gordy sold the label less than a year later.
In 1988, Mr. Miller joined RCA in the newly created position of senior vice president of black, jazz and progressive music.
Among the acts he signed were the R&B-pop trio Sisters With Voices, popularly known as SWV. When the trio complete a difficult feat placing two singles, "I'm So Into You" and "Weak," in the Top 10 at the same time in 1993 Mr. Miller said he was not surprised by their success.
"We were thinking the next big trend would be hip hop with singing," Mr. Miller told the Los Angeles Times in 1993.
He also wrote the foreword to a 1992 three CD set, "The RCA Records Label: The 1st Note in Black Music." The comprehensive package was RCA's first to recognize its black music artists "from the early gospel and blues eras" to "R&B and rap," Mr. Miller told Billboard magazine in 1992.
He was born Alvin Miller in 1946 in New York City. After graduating from Hofstra University, Mr. Miller joined the Army in 1968 and served in Vietnam. After the war, he had connections at Motown and started his career there.

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