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GARY LEMEL,
1939-2019

We’re seeing scattered reports on social media that longtime industry exec Gary LeMel has died; he was 80. While no official announcement has yet appeared, several posts have appeared in the last 24 hours noting his passing.

After starting out at Jerry Weintraub’s Management III and First Artists, LeMel worked on an array of film soundtracks for Warner Bros. Films, overseeing such projects as Barbra Streisand’s A Star is Born and The Main Event. He moved on to Boardwalk (Neil Bogart’s outfit) and then, in the early ’80s, to Columbia Pictures, where his string of smashes included The Big Chill, Ghostbusters, Against All Odds and St. Elmo’s Fire.

He next returned to WB, eventually running the studio’s music division and working on The Bodyguard, Singles and Space Jam, among other big soundtracks.

In 2017, the Guild of Music Supervisors honored LeMel with its Legacy Award for his work on more than 500 films.

A Star Is Born producer William Gerber tells HITS, “There has never been a cooler or more loving person. He was calling me about our A Star Is Born throughout the entire process giving advice and telling great Babs stories. I went to a few of his shows and he was also a true artist on his own. I was in the production trenches with him many times and watched him single handily put hit after hit into Space Jam without a lot of support from the filmmaking side. He was a great dad and husband. He will be truly missed.”

LeMel was himself a jazz artist, performing and recording standards as well as his own material; he recorded for the Vee-Jay label in 1964, the same year the label’s Introducing the Beatles hit the U.S.; in subsequent decades, despite his flourishing industry career, he returned to the studio and the stage, putting out jazzy sets The Best of Times, Romancing the Screen, Lost in Your Arms and the Bobby Darin tribute Moonlighting and performing in cozy rooms like Catalina Bar & Grill and Santa Monica’s The Vic. He discussed creating his own music in an interview with our own Marc Pollack in 2001.

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