Pioneering music and business exec Charles Koppelman dies at age 82


November 25, 2022 |

Charles Koppelman — the famed music executive who was the head of EMI Records, as well as Martha Stewart and Steve Madden’s companies, during his storied career — passed away on Friday at age 82, his family said.

A source told Page Six that Koppelman died after a long illness and spent his last days surrounded by friends and family.

His son, Brian Koppelman, co-creator of the hit show “Billions,” posted on Instagram Friday that he’ll be writing a longer tribute but, “The only thing that matters is how much I loved him. And how much he taught me about every single thing that matters. He lived exactly the life he wanted to live. And he spent his last days surrounded by those he loved the most. Pop, thank you.”

Daughter Jenny Koppelman Hutt, announced on Facebook and Instagram: “With a very heavy heart, we want to share that our beloved father, pop-pop and best friend Charles Koppelman passed away peacefully earlier today surrounded by his entire family. His larger-than-life presence will be with us forever.”

Koppelman’s career in entertainment and beyond was legendary.

After beginning in a band called The Ivy Three — which performed the 1960 hit, “Hey, Yogi” — he became a songwriter for industry vet Don Kirshner, along with famed tunesmiths Gerry Goffin and Carole King. But, a pal joked that Koppelman was, “the worst songwriter in [Kirshner’s] stable,” so he wound up instead running Kirshner’s Aldon Music at age 24.

He then was managing director of Screen Gems/Columbia Music before starting his own imprint.  

Charles Koppelman
Charles Koppelman and wife Gerri at a Friars Club gala for Tony Bennett.

Along the way, Koppelman identified “Here You Come Again” as a song for Dolly Parton, and helped guide the country star’s crossover into pop. He also helped discover recording artists as diverse and successful as the Lovin’ Spoonful, Vanilla Ice, Wilson Phillips and Tim Hardin. He co-produced Bobby Darin’s groundbreaking song, “If I Were A Carpenter,” and executive produced half a dozen of Barbra Streisand’s albums.

An industry insider told us, “He chose all the songs and helped make her a pop music superstar by finding a more modern sound and pairing her with artists like Donna Summer, Barry Gibb and Neil Diamond.”

Patrick McMullan Archives

Koppelman ran Martha Stewart’s business after he exited EMI.

Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

Stand Up For A Cure 2013

Koppelman ran Martha Stewart’s business after he exited EMI.


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Koppelman was also instrumental in creating Frank Sinatra’s massively successful “Duets” album, which marked Ol’ Blue Eyes’ return to Capitol.

Koppelman was also a business leader — building the largest independent music publishing company before selling it to EMI. He founded SBK Records and was the chairman and CEO of EMI Music Publishing and EMI Records Group North America.


After leaving EMI at age 57, he became a corporate leader as chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Steve Madden. He was also on the board of directors of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, SeaWorld and others. 

A music vet told us Koppelman had, “A remarkable career made even more so by his dyslexia and his extremely modest economic origins — as a kid growing up in Laurelton, Queens, who was a physical education major in college before he was kicked out for playing cards when he should have been in class.”

Besides son Brian and daughter Jenny, Koppelman is survived by daughter Stacy Koppelman Fritz, and his wife, Gerri Kyhill Koppelman. He was previously married to Brenda “Bunny” Koppelman, until she passed away in 2008. Koppelman remarried in 2011.

Said a family member: “His seven grandchildren were the center of his life. Along with his table at Rao’s.”

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