Longtime Warner Bros. Records financial exec Murray Gitlin died of prostate cancer on Sept. 3 in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 82.
Mo Ostin, head of Warner Bros. Records and a longtime friend and associate of Gitlin, said, “He felt our label’s priorities: its people — the artists and the employees. Murray Gitlin became famous as the man who ran the money side, but did it with a very large heart.”
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Gitlin moved with his mother to Los Angeles while a teenager, where he met Ostin at Fairfax High School.
He served in the Army during WWII and returned to graduate from UCLA as a CPA.
After working as an accountant, he joined Ostin at Reprise Records, co-owned by Frank Sinatra, and followed when Reprise merged with Warner Bros. Records in 1962.
In his 30-plus years at Warner-Reprise, Gitlin rose to become the label’s chief financial officer.
He was known for combining compassion for his employees with an accountant’s strict attention to expense reports and the bottom line, a challenging juggling act in the eventful music business of the 1960s and ‘70s.
Former Warner Bros. Records topper Lenny Waronker called Gitlin “one of a kind, different from any CFO. He had this big heart that he had to hide. In meetings, he’d be tough.”
Gitlin retired in 1993 to his home in Palm Desert.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Shirley; sons Stuart; Richard, a producer; and Drew; and seven grandchildren.