Jacob's Ladder: People...You Are The Reason I Am...

David Fine

The music industry was mourning one of its chief architects last week following the death of David Fine. Fine succumbed to cancer on August 30 th at his Surrey home.

Colleagues were quick to mark the passing of one of the last great characters and executives with Lucian Grainge, Universal Music Group International Chairman & CEO, praising Fine's “dignified and unflashy” approach. Grainge adds, “He was someone who was an uncomplicated thinker, a straight shooter and extremely professional. He was certainly the modern architect of what Polygram became and someone who created an environment where everyone felt protected.”

Richard Constant, general counsel at Universal Music Group International, who worked with Fine during his many years as the boss of Polygram, adds, “David Fine was a dedicated professional who brought Polygram several years of uninterrupted growth during his tenure as chairman in the Eighties, culminating in its flotation as a public company and its acquisition of both A&M & Island. He was also a thoroughly decent man of great personal integrity and his passing is cause for great sadness.”

John Kennedy, IFPI chairman and CEO, also praised the former IFPI chairman: “David Fine's contribution to the success of the recording industry during the Eighties and Nineties is greatly underestimated. He brought a great business vision and an understanding of the dynamics needed for the industry to prosper. He knew his own strengths and weaknesses and forged strong management teams around him, giving them the freedom to operate and create”.

David Munns, vice chairman, EMI Music, says, “David Fine was a well-liked and respected music executive who had a long and distinguished career. I think his legacies are the significant role he played in the development of the modern music business and, as head of the IFPI, all the important work he did to improve the international profile of the industry”.

Fine's career actually began in film, in his home country of South Africa. But, by 1951 he had joined the Johannesburg-based Trutone Records and six years later moved to the country's biggest music group, Gallo. He spent two decades there, rising to managing director, before the call to run Polygram's UK operations in 1979.

He became president and CEO of Polygram Worldwide in 1987 and two years later led the group onto the stock exchange following the flotation of Philips. In 1991 he handed control to Alain Levy, the same year he took up the chairmanship of the IFPI, which he served in the capacity until 1998.


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