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Recording pioneer dies

Green broke down color barriers in biz

Irving Green, co-founder of Mercury Records, died Saturday in Palm Springs. He was 90.

Green was seen as a pioneer in breaking down color barriers in the music industry. From the beginning, Mercury’s roster was racially diverse, and in 1964 Green made Quincy Jones the first black top executive at a major label.

Green founded Mercury with Berle Adams and Arthur Talmadge in Chicago in 1944. The label focused on promoting releases via jukebox rather than radio play, an approach that proved successful.

Mercury grew from a regional independent to a top player in jazz, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, country and classical music.

Artists who released records on Mercury included the Platters, the Big Bopper, Patti Page, Sara Vaughan, Dina Washington, Lesley Gore, the Four Seasons and the Smothers Brothers.

After Mercury was sold to Polygram Records in the mid-1970s, Green went into land development.

He’s survived by his wife, Pamela; two daughters; three grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

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