Michael “Mickey” Goldsen, a lifelong music publisher who founded Criterion Music Corp. and served as its CEO for well over half a century, died Wednesday in Encino, Calif. He was 99.
Goldsen published such songs as Lee Hazlewood’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” and Don Ho’s “Tiny Bubbles,” as well as hits from Nancy Sinatra, Jackson Browne and Johnny Mercer.
Goldsen was instrumental in running one of the first record label-owned publishing companies with Capitol Records in the 1940s before spending the vast majority of his career steering the independent Criterion. He served as the first president of the Assn. of Independent Music Publishers in the ’70s.
The Brooklyn-born Goldsen started off as a bookkeeper for lyrics magazine Song Hits in 1934 and later worked for publisher Lou Levy’s Leeds Music. He began his executive career with Capitol in the 1940s, heading up publishing division Capitol Songs, in which he was given a 25% share. In 1950, Golden left the company and bought out existing shares of Capitol Songs from Mercer and Buddy DeSylva, relaunching as Criterion Music.
In addition to its catalog of standards from Mercer, Peggy Lee and others, Criterion acquired the Charlie Parker catalog in the 1950s, along with a number of other jazz works from Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Barnett. In the ’60s, Goldsen worked extensively with Hazlewood, publishing hits for Nancy Sinatra, most notably “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” which hit No. 1 in 1966. Also in the ’60s, Criterion expanded into Hawaiian music, publishing Ho’s “Tiny Bubbles” and “Pearly Shells,” among other standards.
Goldsen was later inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame for his work.
In the ’70s the publisher had a top 10 hit with Browne’s “Doctor My Eyes,” and later expanded into country music by opening a Nashville office, signing Roseanne Cash in the ’70s and Lyle Lovett in the ’80s.
Goldsen is survived by son Bo, currently president of Criterion, and daughters Eileen, who owns publisher French Fried Music, and Nancy; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
Funeral services are set for 1 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24, at Eden Memorial Park, 11500 Sepulveda Boulevard, Mission Hills.