2010: It’s announced that Morris’ hand-picked successor will be UMG International head Lucian Grainge, who’ll share Co-CEO duties with Doug until the end of the year, at which point he will take on full CEO duties, with Morris remaining Chairman…or will he?


Industry Legend Prepares for a Third Act After Building Warner, Universal Into Giants

A brief history of Doug Morris:

1960: Graduates from Columbia University.

1963: Begins his industry career as a songwriter for music publisher Robert Mellin, Inc., working with Bert Berns.

1965: Joins Laurie Records as songwriter/producer, eventually becoming VP/GM. Signs Music Explosion, which has its first hit with “Little Bit of Soul.” Writes and produces “Are You a Boy or a Girl” for The Barbarians.

1966: Writes “Sweet Talkin’ Guy,” a hit for The Chiffons.

1970: Starts Big Tree Records label with Dick Vanderbilt, distributed by Ampex, the tape manufacturer.

1972: Big Tree, which includes England Dan and John Ford Coley, Lobo, Brownsville Station, Hot, April Wine and Hot Chocolate, shifts to Bell for distribution.

1973: Produces and writes Brownsville Station’s biggest hit, “Smokin’ in the Boys Room.”

1974: Big Tree goes to Atlantic for distribution, as Doug joins the WEA label.

1978: Atlantic acquires Big Tree, with Ahmet Ertegun naming Doug President of Atco and custom labels Swan Song and Rolling Stones Records.

1980: Becomes President of Atlantic Records, assuming an instrumental role in making it the leading company in the Warner Music Group.

1982: Inks Paul Fishkin and Danny Goldberg’s Modern Records label to Atlantic, scoring a multi-platinum smash with Stevie Nicks’ first solo album, Bella Donna, and signs Pete Townshend for his first solo album, Empty Glass.

1988: Atlantic celebrates its 40th anniversary with a concert broadcast on HBO, featuring Led Zeppelin and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

1990: Warner Communications merges with Time Inc. to form Time Warner, as Morris engineers a 50-50 joint venture with Jimmy Iovine and Ted Field’s Interscope startup.

1990: Named Chairman/Co-CEO of Atlantic Recording Group with Ahmet Ertegun, inks co-venture deals with Rhino and Matador, establishes Atlantic Nashville, EastWest Records and home entertainment unit A*Vision. Company has its best year ever, with five in the Top 10, including Foreigner, AC/DC, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Phil Collins.

1992: Time Warner head Steve Ross passes, as Gerald Levin succeeds him, with Warner Music administrator Bob Morgado named Chairman/COO for Warner Music U.S. label group.

1994: Morgado ousts Warner Bros.Mo Ostin and Elektra’s Bob Krasnow, names Morris President/COO of Warner Music U.S., then ups him to Chairman. Morris taps Val Azzoli as new President of Atlantic, installing the label’s Sylvia Rhone to run Elektra with Seymour Stein. Morris wins a face-off with Morgado, naming Danny Goldberg to replace Ostin at Warner Bros., over the latter’s choice of U.K. head Rob Dickins.

1995: Levin axes Morgado, replacing him with HBO head Michael Fuchs, who ends up firing Morris for “cause,” out of a desire to impress Levin by saving the parent company the money due Doug under the terms of a recently signed, extremely lucrative deal. Fuchs himself is fired and replaced by WB Studios heads Robert Daly and Terry Semel, who proceed to make good on Morris’ lucrative contract.

1995: Seagram heir Edgar Bronfman Jr. acquires MCA Records, then hires Doug and longtime cohort Mel Lewinter to form the joint venture custom label Rising Tide. Later that same year, Bronfman names Morris Chairman/CEO of the MCA Music Entertainment Group, replacing Al Teller. Rising Tide becomes a wholly owned subsidiary, renamed Universal Records by Doug. He once again brings Iovine and Field’s controversial Interscope label into the fold after Warner Music Group is forced to drop the record company when C. Delores Tucker makes a series of headline-grabbing attacks on gangsta rap lyrical content, particularly that of Suge Knight’s Interscope-affiliated Death Row label. MCA acquires the 50% of Interscope the label got back from Warner for a reported $200 million, a deal that will pay dividends for years to come.

1996: MCA Music Entertainment Group is renamed Universal Music Group.

1998: Bronfman shells out $10 billion for PolyGram, creating the world’s largest record company, now including A&M, Island, Def Jam and Motown, as Doug proceeds to spearhead the restructuring and integration process.

2000: French utility and mobile phone company Vivendi merges with Seagram, including UMG, as Bronfman exits from the record business after the $34 billion pairing is approved.

2000: Morris builds his hand-picked team at UMG, with longtime colleagues Jimmy Iovine, Monte Lipman, Sylvia Rhone and L.A. Reid, as the record group peaks with a 40% marketshare. Doug is rewarded with a new five-year contract with two and a half years still left on his old deal. He is honored with NARASPresident’s Merit award.

2000: Named to Vanity Fair’s annual list of top entertainment executives.

2006: Splits Universal Motown Records Group in two, giving Monte Lipman Republic and Sylvia Rhone Motown under veteran exec Mel Lewinter. Vivendi acquires BMG Songs for a reported $2 billion.

2006: Calls out YouTube during a speech at Jessica Reif Cohen’s Merrill Lynch media summit in Pasadena, insisting they’re using his company’s core assets without proper compensation. Also files a lawsuit against MySpace for copyright infringement, later settling with the Fox company. Morris then removes company’s videos from Yahoo, AOL, etc., demanding monetary payments in place of promotion. After several months, the companies agree to pay royalties on videos, setting license precedent for industry, while establishing the music video-on-demand marketplace.

2007: Morris sets month-to-month agreements for Apple’s iTunes, thereby setting the template for other music and content companies to follow.

2007: UMG celebrates an unprecedented 11th consecutive year leading the industry in marketshare.

2008: Morris is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and by the City of Hope with its prestigious Spirit of Life award, raising a record $10 million for cancer research. Also receives coveted Grammy Icon Award.

2009: Morris takes the evolution of online music videos to the next level by convincing Google Chairman Eric Schmidt to have YouTube partner with UMG, Sony Music and Abu Dhabi Media Group to launch Vevo, the premier music and entertainment video network Within its first month, Vevo becomes the #1 music destination on the Web.

2010: It’s announced that Morris’ hand-picked successor will be UMG International head Lucian Grainge, who’ll share Co-CEO duties with Doug until the end of the year, at which point he will take on full CEO duties, with Morris remaining Chairman…or will he?

2011: To be continued…

ATL legend (6/17a)
High times in Inglewood (6/20a)
Collect 'em all (6/20a)
Sloshing through the fun (6/20a)
Black Music Month in the ATL (6/18a)
Who's already a lock?
Three chords and some truth you may not be ready for.
The kids can tell the difference... for now.
The discovery engine is revving higher.

 First Name

 Last Name


Captcha: (type the characters above)