Albert Jolson, a Nashville recording studio owner and the son of legendary entertainer Al Jolson and Erle Galbraith Jolson, died March 4 in Nashville following a two-month battle with pneumonia. He was 67.
Jolson, known to family and close friends as “Jolie,” created Al Jolson Enterprises and shortly thereafter opened a recording studio and music publishing business. In 1988, he purchased a large recording studio from Monument Records. The studio, named Masterlink Studio, was a staple on Music Row for decades. Moreover, Jolson expanded his recording business duplicating audio cassettes and later compact discs. After he retired, he sold his company in 2012.
Upon his mother’s death in 2004, Jolson gained the rights to Al Jolson’s legendary Decca Records recordings, which are now housed at MCA.
Asa Albert Jolson, was born in California and lived with his mother and father in Encino until Al Jolson’s sudden death in 1950 following a strenuous tour of Korea and Japan entertaining U.N. troops. Two months later, President Harry Truman posthumously awarded Al Jolson the Medal for Merit. On behalf of President Truman, Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall, awarded Erle Jolson and their son, Asa Albert, the Medal for Merit in a small ceremony in Marshall’s Washington, D.C., office.
In 1951 Jolson’s mother, Erle, married playwright, Oscar-winning screenwriter and co-studio head of RKO Pictures Norman Krasna. In 1959, Norman and Erle and their children moved to Switzerland. While Krasna busied himself writing the screenplay to Fox’s 1960 Marilyn Monroe starrer “Let’s Make Love,” Jolson was schooled at Ecole Nouvelle in Lausanne followed by the College de Leman in Versoix. He later attended the American College of Switzerland in Leysin where he studied business.
In 1969 Jolson was involved in a car accident in the Swiss Alps that nearly cost him his life. He remained in a coma for six months. Following a decade of painstaking therapy, Jolson relocated to Nashville, where he studied sound engineering at Belmont University.
Jolson donated all of Al Jolson’s memorabilia to the Tennessee State Museum. In 2013 they opened a small exhibit at the War Memorial titled “You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet. Al Jolson Entertains American Troops.”
Jolson is survived by a daughter, Katharine; a granddaughter; two sisters; and a brother.