Gil Friesen was the longtime president of A&M Records, the legendary Los Angeles record company started by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss in 1962. Born in Pasadena, he started in the mailroom at Capitol Records and met Moss while visiting DJ Alan Freed at radio station KDAY in Santa Monica to promote a record. They became friends. Friesen's death of leukmeia at home in Brentwood on Thursday was announced by Jann Wenner, a friend and the founder of Rolling Stone magazine.
From the Los Angeles Times obit:
Friesen's tenure at A&M began "in the heyday of the record business when the record business was a thriving, exciting place to be with the rise of a new generation of popular music, and A&M was at the forefront of it," Wenner said. A&M was "the leading independent label. It had a real reputation for style, class and integrity. It was a happening place to be, and Gil led that."
In 1981, Friesen spearheaded the launch of A&M Films, the company's independent film division, and became executive producer of the 1985 hit "The Breakfast Club." He also produced two early John Cusack comedies, "Better Off Dead" (1985) and "One Crazy Summer" (1986), and the 1989 biopic "Blaze," about Louisiana Gov. Earl Long, starring Paul Newman.
Most recently he'd been working on a documentary titled "Twenty Feet From Stardom," about the backup singers who support rock and pop stars. It has been selected to be shown on opening night of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Friesen has been chairman of the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and a founding partner of the Classic Sports cable channel.