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OSCAR COHEN,
1928-2020

Oscar “Sonny” Cohen, whose 65-year career took him from booking Louis Armstrong and Shirley Bassey to representing Bob Marley and Mary J. Blige, died 4/10 in Boca Raton, Fla. He was 92.

After decades of working with jazz musicians, Cohen was key in breaking the big band-heavy Associated Booking Corp. into rock and R&B, taking on The Allman Brothers BandRod Stewart and Alice Cooper early in their careers.

Cohen got his start at ABC at the age of 14 as an office boy for Joseph Glaser, who founded ABC with Armstrong in 1940. He eventually handled publicity and road management for Armstrong for several years before becoming an agent repping Duke EllingtonLionel HamptonElla Fitzgerald and others.

When Cohen was upped to VP, he pushed ABC into rock, R&B and reggae. Cohen became ABC’s owner and President after Glaser died in 1972 and his roster would come to include B.B. KingDr. JohnRoberta Flack and The O’Jays, among others. The push into the reggae market led to ABC repping repping acts such as Marley, Jimmy CliffPeter ToshThird World and Black Uhuru.

Cohen served as the executive agent for the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation as well as the Armstrong estate.

Photo credit: Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation

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