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Savage has gone silent

Savage Records, home to David Bowie and four other acts, quietly and permanently closed its doors Friday, less than two months after its biggest album release.

The Bertelsmann Music Group-distributed label laid off 18 employees, including industry veterans Gordon Anderson, Savage’s general manager/VP promotion and a former longtime CBS Records employee, and West Coast rep Walter Winnick, formerly an Epic VP promotion.

Savage is owned by 24-year-old racing car magnate David Mimran, whose lack of experience in the record industry was said by sources to have created a cash crunch at the company, leading to the plug pulling. A Savage source said the company’s employees expected downsizing but were stunned by the closing. The source said the company had been in rocky financial straits.

BMG’s corporate spokesman was traveling from a company convention and could not be reached for comment. A Savage spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Rumors about Savage ran uncurbed through the industry two months ago, when label co-president Frank DiLeo exited the company on the eve of its biggest release ever, Bowie’s “Black Tie White Noise” (Daily Variety, March 24). That album has remained in the middle of the Billboard 200.

The announcement of the split termed the parting amicable. Industry sources, though, said Mimran was upset at the company’s mounting losses and wanted DiLeo to devote more time to the label rather than his management company. That entity was part-owned by Savage and splintered following DiLeo’s departure.

Formed in 1991, Savage signed a distribution deal with BMG last summer. Its roster included Bowie, Gene Loves Jezebel, Just Ice, Runaway Slaves and Saints & Sinners.

The label also had a hit with “Hippychick” by the group Soho, which was licensed from a British company owned by Mimran that no longer worked with Savage.