Howie Richmond

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Howie Richmond
Birth name Howard S. Richmond
Born (1918-01-18)January 18, 1918
Died May 20, 2012(2012-05-20) (aged 94)
Rancho Mirage, California, US
Occupation(s) Music publisher, music industry executive
Years active 1935-1990s

Howard S. "Howie" Richmond (January 18, 1918 – May 20, 2012) was an American music publisher and music industry executive. He established The Richmond Organization (TRO), one of the largest independent music publishing organizations in the world, and had a hand in commercialising and promoting many pop, folk and rock songs since the 1940s.


Richmond began working in the music business in 1935, soon establishing his own press office in New York City to publicize clients who included Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, the Andrews Sisters, and Woody Herman. During World War II he served in the Army Air Corps, before helping Buddy Robbins to establish the Robbins Artist Bureau, later known as the American Artists Bureau. In 1949, Richmond set up his first music publishing business, Cromwell Music, with the help of Al Brackman and Abe Olman, and soon had a hit with "Hop-Scotch Polka" by Guy Lombardo. This was quickly followed by the no. 1 "Music! Music! Music!", written by Stephan Weiss and Bernie Baum and recorded by Teresa Brewer.[1] Richmond rapidly expanded and restructured the firm, under the umbrella name of The Richmond Organization, successfully attracting writers providing songs and record producers looking to find them.[2][1]

One key to Richmond's expansion was his emphasis on promoting records through radio stations and their disc jockeys, rather than on promoting songs through live performances. In the early 1950s, Richmond had particular success through promoting the songs and work of folk performers, notably Lead Belly (Huddie Ledbetter), Woody Guthrie and The Weavers, who included Pete Seeger. Richmond promoted the Weavers' version of Lead Belly's song "Goodnight Irene" by sending copies of the record to disc jockeys across the US - a technique that had not been widely used before - and the result was sales of over 250,000 sheet music copies and 500,000 records.[2] Richmond also worked closely with Woody Guthrie, providing him with a tape recorder to record his songs, many of which subsequently became commercially successful.[1] Another song that was successfully published and promoted by Richmond was "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine", first performed and recorded by The Weavers and later a hit for Jimmy Rodgers. The song was copyrighted in the names of Joel Newman and Paul Campbell, both pseudonyms used by Richmond, though Pete Seeger later claimed that its tune was derived from a traditional Irish melody, modified by Lead Belly, with new lyrics by Seeger and Lee Hays.[3] Similar concerns over authorship have also been expressed in relation to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", otherwise known as "Wimoweh", on which "Paul Campbell" is credited as co-writer.[4]

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, many of the pop songs published by Richmond found success. These included "I Believe", "Fly Me to the Moon", "As Long As He Needs Me", "What Kind of Fool Am I?", and "Those Were the Days", as well as songs initiated by Ledbetter, Guthrie, Seeger and others such as "If I Had a Hammer", "Rock Island Line", "We Shall Overcome" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!". He increasingly developed the company's interests outside of the United States, working with English and French songwriters such as Lionel Bart, Anthony Newley and Charles Aznavour. In the 1960s and 1970s, he developed links with writers such as Shel Silverstein and, through the subsidiary company Essex Music, British rock musicians including Pink Floyd, The Who, David Bowie, The Moody Blues and Black Sabbath.[1]

In 1969, together with Johnny Mercer and Abe Olman, Richmond co-founded the National Academy of Popular Music (NAPM) and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame to honor songwriters for their contributions to popular music. In 1983, he received the Songwriters Hall of Fame's first ever Abe Olman Publisher of the Year Award.[1] Richmond continued as Chairman of the Board of The Richmond Organization and The Essex Music Group, although from the 1990s active control was in the hands of his sons, Larry and Frank Richmond.[5]

Richmond died at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, on May 20th, 2012.[6]