Ed Wright, a trailblazing leisure business govt whose multi-faceted profession encompassed radio programming, music promotion, artist administration and personal consulting for movie and TV, died of pure causes in Cincinnati on Monday (Sept. 11). Wright, who additionally performed a pivotal position in initiating June as Black Music Month, was 82 years outdated.
Calling Wright a “mentor, friend, colleague and client,” Grammy-winning producer Don Mizell tells Billboard, “Ed was a smooth, congenial visionary and efficacious navigator at the cutting edge of the momentous advances first instigated by the Black music industry during the ‘70s. His warm and gracious personality, diplomatic style and versatility served the emergent needs of Black music’s growth at a crucial time.” Mizell additionally famous that Wright engineered his being employed as the primary Black govt at Elektra Data when he was appointed GM of the label’s jazz fusion/city division earlier than later ascending to its VP.
Wright was simply 13 years outdated when he turned a part-time announcer at WCIN in Cincinnati, the place he was born in 1940. After going full-time on the station in 1958, he later turned its information director and manufacturing supervisor. Wright additionally majored in communications at College of Cincinnati’s School-Conservatory of Music.
Between 1962-66, Wright served as program director of Cleveland radio station WABQ, the place he helped foster as we speak’s fashionable city radio format. Additionally throughout that interval, he turned the youngest president of the Nationwide Affiliation of Tv and Radio Announcers (NATRA), a corporation representing Black broadcasters. Within the latter half of the last decade, Wright segued into the music business as the pinnacle of Liberty Data’ Minit division, whose roster included the O’Jays and Bobby Womack. Along with managing artist growth, manufacturing, promotion and gross sales in coordination with the Liberty department distribution system, Wright supervised advertising and marketing for the Blue Observe jazz label.
Wright hung up his personal shingle as president of the Edward Windsor Wright Company (EWW), specializing in promotion and public relations, from 1969-1976. Along with Blue Observe, the corporate’s shoppers included main and impartial labels similar to CBS Data, A&M, Warner Bros., Capitol, MCA, Stax, United Artists and Philadelphia Worldwide in addition to ABC Circle Movies (Barry Diller) and New World Photos (Roger Corman). At one time, EWW’s administration division boasted a roster starting from Womack, the O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass and Herbie Hancock to Natalie Cole, Billy Paul and Earth, Wind & Hearth.
Kenneth Gamble of legendary manufacturing duo Gamble & Huff, and co-founder of Philadelphia Worldwide, first met Wright at a NATRA conference. The pair would later co-found the Black Music Affiliation, out of which arose the declaration of June as Black Music Month.
“Ed was a forward thinker,” Gamble tells Billboard. “There was lack of knowledge and comprehension about the economics of our industry. Ed, along with Clarence Avant, Jules Malamud, Glenda Gracia, Dyana Williams and artists like Earth, Wind & Fire and Stevie Wonder among others, helped advance our culture. Ed was one of the primary leaders who created economic opportunities for Black professionals as well as the establishment of Black Music Month, now in its 44th year.”
Wright’s profession resumé contains his institution of GEI Communications, specializing in market analysis, session and public relations, and the artist administration agency World Leisure, which launched in 1977. He was additionally co-owner/president of the Lengthy Seashore, Calif., FM station KNAC within the ‘80s and later managed artist Chico DeBarge and the reconstructed group DeBarge that includes Bobby DeBarge.
Former Mercury Data president Ed Eckstein was 19 years outdated in 1973 and “a green-behind-the-ears music journalist” for Soul journal when his assigned beat put him involved with Wright’s agency, EWW.
“Ed and his trusty lieutenant Bob Brock were head and shoulders above all PR firms specializing in representing contemporary R&B artists,” recollects Eckstein in an electronic mail to Billboard. “I reflect fondly on that period when I would get a call querying my interest in talking with a young, pre-Teddy Theodore Pendergrass Jr. of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes or in spending a day with the O’Jays’ Eddie Levert. And in spending the better part of an evening in the studio while Epic Records artist Minnie Riperton was finishing her career-defining Perfect Angel album with Stevie Wonder. Ed was a businessman of dignity, class and professionalism who ran a first-class operation and whose mentorship and tutelage fueled my career from its nascent stages through the ensuing decades. Rest well, Ed. You touched many lives with your gentle hand.”
Wright’s survivors embody his sister, Bedria Sanders.