Helen Noga, longtime club owner, music industry activist and talent manager best remembered for discovering and nurturing singer Johnny Mathis, died Monday of heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles. She was 88.
During the mid-1950s, she and her husband, John, owned and operated two San Francisco jazz clubs that were known for attracting musicians Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis and Billie Holiday. Mathis and his college sextet performed a jam session at one of their clubs, the Black Hawk, and Noga signed Mathis to an exclusive contract.
They later sold their Bay Area clubs and moved to Beverly Hills where Mathis lived with them from 1958 until their business relationship hit the rocks in 1964.
Noga later founded and financed Philly Records with Phil Spector and penned the 1972 book “Ayisha,” about a love affair between a Turkish Muslim and an Armenian Christian.
Her husband died in 1999.
She is survived by a daughter and two great granddaughters.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills.