David A. Braun, one of the most powerful lawyers in the music industry during its heyday, representing talent such as Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Michael Jackson during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, died Wednesday in Santa Barbara. He was 81.
Braun was the father of Lloyd Braun, partner with Gail Berman in the production company BermanBraun and a former chairman of ABC Entertainment Group and chief of Yahoo Media Group.
David Braun used the clout of his powerful talent roster to make groundbreaking deals on behalf of his clients that improved upon the standard phonograph record and music publishing agreements of the day. The rights of reversion, advances inclusive of recording costs, limited term foreign publishing rights with substantial advances and considerably higher royalty rates seen today were achieved through Braun’s negotiations.
Braun’s career as an agent in the music business began when he represented new songwriter Bob Dylan. Diamond, Harrison, the Band, Peter, Paul & Mary, Judy Collins and Jackson would ultimately be added to the roster. Diamond was a close personal friend.
Braun joined the firm Hardee, Barovick, Konecky & Braun in the early ’70s and moved his practice from New York to Beverly Hills in 1974. John Branca and many other of today’s prominent music attorneys were mentored by Braun.
Braun’s achievements included negotiating the Beatles settlement on behalf of George Harrison. He also co-produced the Band’s farewell concert “The Last Waltz” and negotiated Jackson’s deal for his album “Thriller.”
Braun left his law practice in 1981 to become president and CEO of Polygram Records in the U.S. but resumed his law practice two years later.
An only child, Braun was born in the Bronx. He attended Columbia College and Columbia Law School, obtaining a joint B.A. and J.D. degree in 1954. He was a member of the law firm Pryor, Braun, Cashman & Sherman, where his initial entertainment-industry experience was in the television business, representing ad agencies, TV writers, performers and producers.
Braun served as president of the New York chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and was also involved in the founding of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland..
In addition to son Lloyd, Braun is survived by his wife, Merna, to whom he was married for 57 years; sons Kenneth and Evan; and eight grandchildren.