×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Don Grierson, A&R Exec Who Signed Celine Dion, Worked With the Beatles, Dies at 77

Don Grierson, a notable A&R executive who first signed Celine Dion to Epic Records and received a Golden Apple Award from The Beatles while at Capitol Records, died on Jan. 5. He was 77.

The U.K.-born Grierson worked as a local radio DJ in Australia at the age of 18, but dreamed of moving to the U.S.as a promotion executive for various labels.

His half-century music industry career included stints as an A&R Coordinator, West Coast, for RCA Records; Manager for International Promotion and West Coast Promotion Manager at Capitol Records, where he helped promote The Beatles’ early records, and was awarded a Golden Apple Award in 1968 from the band recognizing his efforts from 1966-‘69. Grierson went on to become VP/Head of &R for both EMI America and Capitol Records and Senior Vice President/Head of A&R at Epic Records, where he famously signed Celine Dion to her first recording contract after sister label Columbia turned her down. She rewarded his faith with her debut single, “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” which hit the Top 5 on the singles chart in January 1991.

Among the artists he worked with over an impressive, half-century-long career were Michael Jackson, Kim Carnes, Sheena Easton, Kate Bush, J. Geils Band, Kenny Rogers, Heart, Joe Cocker, Melba Moore, Megadeth, W.A.S.P. and George Clinton. He also played a role in the work of Tina Turner, Bob Seger, Anne Murray, The Motels, Duran Duran, The Power Station, Crowded House, Poison, the Smithereens, Gloria Estefan, Cyndi Lauper, the Jacksons, Living Colour, Indigo Girls, Allman Brothers Band, Alice Cooper, Social Distortion and Firehouse, among many others.

During the ‘90s. Grierson founded reissue labels Drive Entertainment, re-releasing more than 140 albums by artists such as Billie Holiday, Count Basie Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker.

Grierson also served as a music consultant for new artists, managers and indie labels, co-authoring the book, “It All Begins With Music: Developing Successful Artists and Careers for the New Music  Business,” and served as an instructor at Musicians’ Institute’s College of Contemporary Music in Los Angeles.

At the time of his death, Grierson worked at Younk, a company he co-founded last year as his vision of music creation and community involvement. “As a Lead Expert, he helped boost, develop and release young talent all over the world,” read a statement from the company. “We truly believe that his input was priceless and that [he] will forever be our guiding star in the Universe of Music.”

He is survived by his wife Deborah, daughter Nicole and brother Barry in addition to ex-wife Patricia Chow.

More Music

  • Prince Memoir, ‘The Beautiful Ones,’ to

    Prince Memoir, ‘The Beautiful Ones,’ to Be Released in October

    The memoir Prince was working on at the time of his death is coming out Oct. 29, according to the Associated Press. Publisher Random House confirmed Monday that “The Beautiful Ones” will combine Prince’s unfinished manuscript with rare photos, scrapbooks and lyrics. Announced just weeks before his 2016 death, the 288-page book, issued in partnership [...]

  • TV Review: ‘Motown 60: A Grammy

    TV Review: ‘Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration’

    If nothing else, CBS’ “Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration” special alerted America to the continued vitality of Smokey Robinson as a contemporary performer. Ten months from turning 80, the singer’s performances were focused and controlled as he weaved his sultry vocals through classics he wrote — the ballads “The Tracks of My Tears” and “Ooh Baby Baby,” chief among them. Producers [...]

  • Maren Morris, Alessia Cara Join Zedd

    Maren Morris, Alessia Cara Join Zedd at Coachella Weekend Two

    Fan favorite Zedd brought out two of his best-known collaborators, Maren Morris and Alessia Cara, for hit singles “The Middle” and “Stay” at Coachella weekend two. The pair’s appearances and the overwhelming attendance at the German DJ’s set mark another notch in favor of Coachella’s long, and at this point, nearly complete transformation into a [...]

  • Florence and the Machine

    Florence & the Machine Premiere New Song on 'Game of Thrones'

    [pmc=related] If the voice singing the song during the end credits of “Game of Thrones” tonight sounded familiar — or unmistakable — yes, it was Florence + the Machine. The group’s version of the original “Game of Thrones” song “Jenny of Oldstones” debuted during the closing credits of this season’s second episode, following a rendition [...]

  • Lizzo performs on stage during the

    Lizzo Kills Coachella Weekend Two Despite Second Round of Sound Issues

    Lizzo fans may have a bone to pick with Coachella. After being plauged by sound issues in her weekend one set, Lizzo completed a near flawless performance at the Mojave tent on Sunday, save for her closing track, “Juice.” After a successful start to the song, accompanied by her Big Girls dancers, the backing track [...]

  • Mott the Hoople: 2019's Great Rock

    Mott the Hoople: 2019's Great Rock Resurrection

    Ian Hunter borrowed a bit of Easter imagery for “Roll Away the Stone,” the closing number from Mott the Hoople’s final studio album in 1974. He didn’t take the religious symbolism much further for a song that is a jubilant paean to enduring love and, implicitly, to the power of music itself. But if you [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content