Music Businessman Mort L. Nasatir Passes

Mort Nasatir with a young Hank Williams Jr.

Mort Nasatir with a young Hank Williams Jr.

Multi-faceted music-business figure Mort Nasatir has died at age 88.

During his career, Nasatir worked as a music journalist, record-label executive, educator, author and radio-station manager. Born in Chicago in 1925, he graduated with a degree in journalism from that city’s Northwestern University.

He met and married his wife Valerie in New York in 1953. In 1960, he was an editor on the essay compilation The Jazz Word, which has been republished many times since. In 1961, he wrote the program book for the Great Moments in Music event at Carnegie Hall.

Also in the early 1960s, he wrote liner notes for the Broadway musical cast album Destry Rides Again as well as for artists such as Lawrence Welk. These projects were for Decca Records, his entry point into the recording industry.

Between 1964 and 1969, Mort Nasatir was president of MGM Records. While there, he re-signed Hank Williams Jr. and guided the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, Erroll Garner, Astrid Gilberto and others. He presented Gold Record awards to such stars as The Cowsills and Stan Getz. He was the recording supervisor on the 1967 MGM cast recording of the long-running off-Broadway musical You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.

In 1967, he attempted to sign Bob Dylan away from Columbia Records by reportedly offering him sheets of unpublished song lyrics by the legendary Hank Williams. Nasatir was also behind MGM’s 1968-69 promotion of The Boston Sound, featuring groups such as Ultimate Spinach, Orpheus and The Beacon Street Union.

While at MGM, Mort Nasatir served as the national president of The Recording Academy (NARAS) in 1968.

Nasatir next became the publisher of Billboard magazine. He spent six-and-a-half years as the head of the company’s London office, supervising all of Billboard’s European publications in the 1970s.

In 1983, he was offered an administrative staff position at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. In Nashville, he became the general manager of WLAC radio.

He remained in Nashville for the rest of his life, serving as a Lay Reader at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral and becoming a member of the 1999 Green Hills Citizens Advisory Committee for that community’s redevelopment plan. Mort and Valerie Nasatir were familiar faces at many Recording Academy events in Music City in the 1980s and 1990s.

Mort Nastir died on July 15. He is survived by wife Valerie, sons Seth, Mark and Iaian, six grandchildren and a brother. Funeral services are scheduled for 3 p.m. on July 24 in Christ Church Cathedral Chapel.


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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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