|Birth name||Edward Gladstone Abner, Jr.|
May 11, 1923|
Chicago, Illinois, US
December 27, 1997 (aged 74)|
Los Angeles, California, US
Ewart Abner, the son of a minister, was born in Chicago and graduated from Englewood High School in 1939. He went to Howard University and studied pharmacy but dropped out and served in the military. After the war, he got a degree in accounting from DePaul University in 1949. Between 1950 and 1954, he served at the Chance label as the owner Art Sheridan's right-hand man handling the finances of the business.
In early 1955, Abner became part owner and general manager of Vee-Jay Records. He was appointed president of Vee-Jay in 1961 and with the addition of artists such as Jerry Butler, the Four Seasons, Gene Chandler, Holly Maxwell, Dee Clark, Betty Everett, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed and the Beatles, the company continued to grow as a major independent.
Abner was ousted from Vee Jay Records after he gambled away company funds in Las Vegas. The resulting cash flow problems led directly to Vee Jay's 1964 collapse; the company declared formal bankruptcy in 1966. Meanwhile, Abner formed Constellation Records in August 1963 with partners Art Sheridan and Bill "Bunky" Sheppard. Constellation experienced its most notable success with Gene Chandler. In 1966, Abner joined Motown Records and in 1973 and for the next two years he served as its president. He was closely associated with the Motown label until his death.
- Robert Pruter, Doowop: The Chicago Scene, Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1997, pp. 22-23.
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