Donald W. Ovens, well-known longtime music industry executive, died Jan. 16 in Palm Springs after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 68.Following service in the armed forces shortly after World War II, Ovens joined the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in 1947. He left a short time later to become music programmer for the popular “Ted Steele Show” on station WMCA in New York City. Ovens joined Capitol Records in 1951 as East Coast promotion and artist relations director for a roster of artists that included Frank Sinatra, Margaret Whiting and Kay Starr. He left Capitol in 1960 to form his own management company, representing such artists as Kaye Ballard, Gloria DeHaven and Morgana King. From 1964-73, he served as director of charts and reviews for Billboard, which included reviewing albums and single product. He then left Billboard for a brief stint as country music director for MGM Records. He later returned to Capitol Records as country music director, West Coast, before fulfilling a lifelong dream of opening his own record shop, Celebrity Records, in West Hollywood. His autograph parties for legendary stars, including Bette Davis, Alice Faye, Kathryn Grayson, Carol Channing, Ethel Merman and Eartha Kitt, drew big crowds for signings of their album releases and re-releases. Ovens also served as music director for the Armed Forces Radio Network until last year and was the special project coordinator for his longtime friend Mike Curb at Curb Records. Ovens is survived by a sister and numerous nieces and nephews. Donations in Ovens’ name may be sent to the Hospice of the Desert Communities, 1150 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92263.
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