Business News Obituaries

Former Now US chief dies

By | Published on Friday 7 May 2010

The former EMI executive who launched the Now compilation series in the US, Bob Mercer, has died aged 65.

Mercer began his music industry career in the UK in the 1970s, when he was headhunted out of General Foods to take over marketing efforts at EMI’s London HQ. He went on to become EMI’s MD and signed up a string of artists, including Queen, Marc Bolan and Kate Bush. He parted company with the London-based major in 1980, with some saying he’d never quite forgiven his superiors at the label for forcing him to drop the Sex Pistols in 1977.

He spent a short time working in the film industry, and a shorter time managing Paul McCartney, before becoming a partner in production and management firm Tango, which managed various artists and was active in the advertising space. He returned to the record industry after re-locating to Nashville in the early 1990s. It was there that he was hired by Polygram to launch the ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ brand in the US. He subsequently performed various VP roles at Polygram and, once Polygram had merged with Universal, at the Universal Music Group’s UTV Records. 

He later returned to the Now business, leading EMI’s JV with Sony Music and Universal Music on the legendary compilations franchise.

Mercer died on Wednesday after a brief battle with lung cancer. He is survived by a wife and son.