Business News Obituaries

Grammy producer dies

By | Published on Monday 14 September 2009

TV producer Pierre Cossette, perhaps best known for spearheading and overseeing the TV production of the Grammy Awards show for 35 years, has died aged 85.

Canada-born Cossette had a prolific five decade career in the US entertainment industry, working as a talent agent, personal manager and record label boss as well as a TV and theatre producer. After serving in the army in World War II he went to college and got a degree in journalism. Despite the journalism qualification, his first job in the entertainment industry was at a 1950s MCA, then a top Hollywood talent agency.

He subsequently formed his own personal management company, through which he managed the affairs of a range of stars, and later founded Dunhill Records, which helped launch the careers of the likes of The Mamas And The Papas, Steppenwolf and Johnny Rivers. After selling the label to ABC he moved into television, which led to him persuading the US Recordings Academy to open up their Grammy Awards – previously a closed doors industry bash – and to turn the awards show into a televised extravaganza. He subsequently oversaw the production of the Grammys TV show for 35 years before handing over the job to his son in 2005.

His prolific TV career also saw Cossette working on other music-based productions; he initiated the Latin Grammys in 2000, producing the Black Entertainment Awards for a while, and made more than fifty music specials for US TV.

Paying tribute to Cossette, current Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow told reporters: “It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our dear friend and father of the Grammy Awards. Pierre was a creative visionary and one of the most accomplished, versatile and respected producers. It was because of his passion and dedication that the Grammy Awards came to network television close to 40 years ago”.