For Immediate Release
August 22, 2013
Winter represented rock stars, movie stars, best-selling authors and music conglomerates, including superstars Michael Jackson, Elton John, Janet Jackson, Queen , The Who, Barry White, Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, George Michael, Neil Diamond, Billy Joel, Tom Petty, Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Tony Curtis, Sophia Loren, Joan Collins, CBS Records and Jesus Christ Superstar, to name but a few.
Las Vegas, NV – Norman Winter, the man behind the meteoric careers of the bulk of the twentieth century’s superstars, passed away from complications of Lewy Body Disease early this morning. Winter’s legendary career began in New York when the Brooklyn teenager headed to Hollywood as a fanzine photographer for Frank Sinatra. After recognizing his unique ability to craft a caption, mixed with a “gift of gab,” the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Billboard Magazine, Lee Zhito, urged Winter to become a “PR Man,” ultimately landing a job as publicity chief for MCA/Universal Records. After a string of successes at Universal, including Jesus Christ Superstar, the album, and propelling Elton John to superstardom, Winter opened his own PR/Marketing firm, aptly named Norman Winter / Associates.
Winter will always be remembered for having catapulted Michael Jackson’s Thriller album to heights never before (or since) seen in the music industry. In just over a year, Thriller became—and currently remains—the best-selling album of all time, with sales estimated at the time by Guinness World Records, The Baby Boomer Encyclopedia and The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History, as being between 51 and 65 million copies worldwide. The legendary Victory Tour, Jackson’s acquisition of the Beatles’ catalog and his lucrative Pepsi endorsement were other monumental accomplishments for which the unconventional publicist played a vital role. Winter joined Jackson at the White House, where then President Ronald Reagan honored the superstar. Coordinating media, Winter actually wrote text for the President’s speech. The event marked the first time that MTV News gained press credentials to attend a Rose Garden reception – again brought about by Winter’s unmatched tenacity.
With offices on both coasts, and artists around the world, Winter delivered success after success for the likes of Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Janet Jackson, Queen, Rick James, Barry White, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Who, AC/DC, Steppenwolf, Meatloaf, Johnny Rivers, the Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin, Christopher Cross, Bobby Ross Avila, Donny Osmond, Garth Brooks, Herb Alpert, Paul Anka, Phil Ramone, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Bootsy Collins, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Brian McKnight, Outkast, Usher, Jimmy Cliff, Steve Martin, Joan Collins, Arsenio Hall, Morris Day and gospel luminaries Jennifer Knapp and multiple-Grammy-winner Deniece Williams. Delivering distinction for rap and hip-hop artists, Winter guided NWA’s late Eazy-E, Dr Dre, Babyface and Bangin’ On Wax (the Bloods & Crips collaboration), Domino, Bone Thugs – N – Harmony and Eddie Griffin to the top of the charts. In the field of Latin music, Winter heralded the careers of Emmanuel, Lucia Mendez, Chichi Peralta, Renegade, Luis Cardenas and The Golden Eagle Awards, among others. In the publishing arena, Winter introduced Fit for Life, a nutritional health bible, that emerged as the top-selling general interest book of all time, holding the top spot on The New York Times bestseller list for more than a year. Winter’s corporate clients have included Virgin Records (Noo Trybe), Ruthless Records, The Scotch Magnetic Tape Division of 3M, The Lincoln Mint, The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS), ASCAP, BMI, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Warner/Chappell, CBS Songs, CBS Records Group, Allied Artists Music Group, Scotti Brothers Records, TJ Martell Foundation and Windswept Pacific Holdings. Billboard Publications selected Winter to publicize the magazine’s International Music Industry Conferences (IMIC) in Washington, DC, Venice, and Monte Carlo. Billboard Magazine also retained Winter to publicize their annual song contest.
Condolences are pouring in from around the world. Michael Jackson’s longtime attorney, John Branca, stated “We are so sad to hear of the passing of our dear friend Norman Winter. Norman was a unique, one of a kind character who was dearly beloved. He was of great help and service to Michael and our team during the Thriller period and we will all miss him.” Kim Richards, CEO, Allied Artists Int’l, released the following statement “Norman was so much more than words can ever describe. He was as much a father to me as he was a bigger than life character. Despite being amongst the most important people in entertainment, Norman never forgot his roots and always treated the least of us as his equal. I’ll never forget Norman and will treasure the wonderful memories of watching a true master at work!” Russ Regan, former President of UNI Records, commented that “Norman Winter belongs in the Press Agent’s Hall of Fame, because there was nobody better. He helped me make four superstars; Elton John, Neil Diamond, Barry White and Olivia Newton-John. I loved him with all my heart.” Bonnie Tiegel, Senior Producer, Entertainment Tonight, said of Winter’s passing “Norman’s integrity and honesty earned him the respect of his peers and all of the talented artists he represented. His great love for his family was always a priority,” Former Los Angeles Times Music Editor and famed author, Robert Hilburn said of Winter, “Norm Winter was unorthodox by public relations standards–schooled in the ‘anything goes’ tradition of old-time showbiz PR rather than the more disciplined rules of journalism. Once he was on your side, however, he stopped at nothing to make sure the world heard and cared about you. He played a key role in helping an unknown Elton John become a superstar in America and beyond, and he later treated Michael Jackson with an all-consuming dedication during his ‘Thriller’ heights.”
Winter succumbed to complications of Lewy Body Disease in the early morning hours of August 22, 2013 at a Las Vegas area hospital. He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Joy, daughters Jennifer and Elizabeth and brother Alfred. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.
Allied Artists Music Group began life as the music soundtrack division of Allied Artists Pictures. Throughout the years, the Allied Artists’ name has not only been associated with legendary motion pictures, but truly memorable soundtracks, such as “Cabaret,” by Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey. Today, the company strives to produce, market and distribute quality music across all genres that is both timeless and cutting edge.
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