British music industry legend Maurice “Obie” Oberstein died of leukemia in London Aug. 12. He was 72.
Oberstein, considered one of the key architects of the U.K. record biz, served as chairman of the British Phonographic Industry twice, 1983-1985 and 1991-1993.
From 1985 to 1993, Oberstein was CEO of Polygram U.K. and prior to that was managing director and then chairman of CBS U.K. His signing credits include the Clash, Wham!, Sade, Psychedelic Furs and Adam & the Ants.
The native New Yorker got his start at his father Eli Oberstein’s indie label Rondor and took over the business upon his death in 1960. In 1963, he released “The John Kennedy Memorial Album,” a collection of the just-assassinated president’s speeches that sold more than 4 million copies in a month — a world record.
In 1965, Oberstein joined CBS in New York, then moved to Britain to help set up a local operation for the major.
Oberstein is also remembered for eccentricity: During meetings, he would sometimes pretend to take advice from one of his pet dogs; he also had a love of hats and wore everything from Homburgs to turbans to sailor’s caps.