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STAN CORNYN, 1933-2015
Warner Bros. Exec Wrote the Cleverest Collateral Ever

Veteran exec Stan Cornyn, who died this weekend at age 81, played a key role in the marketing and branding of Warner Bros./Reprise in the '60s and thereafter; his witty and unconventional writing on WB liner notes, ad copy and other collateral established a quirky, funny, countercultural and music-savvy voice that was integral to the label’s identity during its storied golden age. He also penned a highly regarded book about his tenure in Burbank, Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes, and Hustlers of the Warner Music Group.

He started at the label in 1958 and over his lengthy tenure became EVP of WBR and then of WMG. He won Grammys and multiple nominations for his liner notes (about which more below), penned a screenplay, headed Warner New Media in the '80s and led the computer-games division of Media Vision. 

A statement from NARAS chief Neil Portnow reads: “Stan Cornyn was a quiet giant in our industry. When Warner Bros. Records was establishing its long run as an artist-first label, it was Stan’s wit and creativity that helped give the label its personality and attract cutting-edge artists to its roster. His writing talent earned him Best Album Notes GRAMMYs for 1965 and 1966. Our thoughts go out to his family and all those who worked with him and gained from his wisdom.”

Adds novelty-radio veteran Barry "Dr. Demento" Hansen: "It would be difficult to list all of the various ways the former Warner Bros. Records executive Stan Cornyn was a direct influence on everyone who ever worked for him, or with him. And it would be just as difficult to assess how something he may have written many years ago — a liner note, or a bit of marketing copy, or something for Warner Bros.’ Circular, the label’s humorous in-house publication — may have sparked interest in someone enough to buy one of WBR’s albums, or even inspired someone enough to think that they’d probably enjoy working at a record company like WBR, but that’s exactly the kinds of comments we’ve been reading for the last twenty-fours or so."

We fall far short of the mark, but several of the editorial losers in this building were profoundly influenced by Stan's work. He'll be sorely missed.

 

 

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