Bob Garcia, former director of artist relations at A&M Records and West Coast president of the Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, died of natural causes at his home in Tujunga, Calif. on April 26. It was a week before his 82nd birthday.
After serving in the U.S. Army in the mid-1960s, Garcia moved to Los Angeles, working as a journalist in the fashion industry, and then a writer and editors for underground newspaper Open City. Simultaneously, he wrote criticism about the rock music scene; including reviews of Pink Floyd, Tim Buckley, Phil Ochs, the Fugs and the Mothers of Invention.
Garcia’s writing caught the attention of A&M Records, which he joined as a biography writer in 1968. His subjects included Joe Cocker, Procol Harum, Cat Stevens, Murray Head and Jimmy Cliff as A&M started to build its significant rock music roster. Garcia was quickly promoted to director of publicity; in that role, he created their artist relations departments and developed the college representative program.
Garcia was promoted to director of artist relations, a post that he held throughout his tenure at A&M. His ability to translate artists’ needs helped solidify A&M’s artist-friendly reputation. In many years on the road, Garcia developed long-standing relationships with many musicians, including Joe Cocker, The Police, Squeeze, Joe Jackson, Amy Grant, LTD and Jeffrey Osborne.
After leaving A&M in 1997, Garcia started his own music consultancy, Shedding Dog LLC (named after the Great Pyrennes’ dogs he loved). In this role, he served as an advisor and consultant to many artists and entities, including Michael Kamen, Neil Young, Lady Gaga, One Republic, and Blake Shelton, among others.
Herb Alpert, co-founder of A&M Records, said, “Bob Garcia worked at A&M Records for many years and without exception, was liked by all. Artists and employees admired his quirkiness and original personality that didn’t change with the times. I personally appreciated his keen observations on music, and life as he saw it. I loved Bob.”
Sting, who was with A&M with the Police and as a solo artist, stated, “Uncle Bob we used to call him. Uncle Bob was our concierge, our mentor, our protector, our confidante, and we were always assured of a warm welcome there, laced with a liberal dose of his mordant wit. You could talk film, theatre, books and music with Bob and behind the humor of those twinkling eyes, you had a sense that he’d seen and heard everything and yet, like a true sage, had reserved judgement.
“He could be laconic and cryptic just as he could be compassionate and fulsome, but always equally amused by both the blandishments and trials of ‘the life,’ and nothing seemed to faze him. He was, and to me still is, the presiding spirit of that magical lot on La Brea. He will always be there for me, as he was in life.”
Singer-songwriter Amy Grant added, “Bob Garcia was a huge part of the A&M Records community that I treasured. Bob shared a love of music and creativity that trickled down to me as an artist and I am forever grateful. He was quirky,warm and always fascinating. He will be greatly missed by so many of us.”
Born May 3, 1938 in Providence, RI, Garcia spent his childhood between Providence, Greenwich CT, New York City and then Los Angeles. In his early teens, he sang with the New York City Center Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. He graduated from Indiana U. with a degree in journalism and received his masters in communications from Columbia.
In the mid-1960s, Garcia enlisted in the U.S. Army and spent 2-1/2 years as part of the Post Judge Advocate General (JAG) Court and was stationed in Germany, the Philippines and Vietnam. His hobbies and passions included music, movies, literature, the outdoors, the Recording Academy and the Great Pyreness dog rescue in Devore.
In lieu of flowers, survivors suggest donations to MusiCares in Garcia’s name. Additionally, his latest rescue, Perseus, is in the care of the Great Pyrenees Assn. of Southern California and is looking for a new home. To find out more or to contribute to Perseus’ care, please go to www.GreatPyrRescue.org.
A Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date.
Pictured (from left): Sting, BMI executive Doreen Ringer Ross and Bob Garcia