Rick Abramson, one of the record industry’s legendary promotion men, died Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 65. The cause of death was lung cancer.
Born in Queens, N.Y., Abramson was a regular at such places as Dan Tana’s (where a memorial service was held Sunday), Mirabelle and the Palm; and such a fixture in West Hollywood that the doorman at the Viper Room really did refer to him as “the mayor of the Sunset Strip.”
Abramson’s career began in the late ’60s when, after a tour as an Air Force medic, he traveled with the inter-racial pop group Jay and the Techniques (“Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie”) as their road manager. He also promoted “Venus” by Shocking Blue.
Abramson is reputed to have discovered and traveled with Tiny Tim in the mid-’60s, but the eccentric singer dropped him when he began appearing on “The Tonight Show.” The labels he worked for included Heritage Colossus, Crewe and Tonsil. He was also the national advertising manager of High Times in its early publishing days.
His intense love for Japanese food led him to be the unpaid greeter at Matsuhisa when it first opened in Los Angeles. He later did the same work at Asanebo.
Abramson was also known for supplying promotional merchandising material — everything from tour jackets to in-store displays — for the record industry. One friend said he was “so shameless about getting business” he named his dog Sony.
“He was the glue between the guys who were out promoting records and the guys who had to get it on the store shelves,” said former High Times publisher Andy Kowl. “He knew everybody. He stood out. And he kind of made himself a character because that worked.”