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KEN PEDERSON,
1957-2020

Former Capitol and Virgin executive Ken Pedersen, known for deals with Janet Jackson and world music labels plus the creation of Now That’s What I Call Music!, died of sepsis brought on by non-COVID-related pneumonia on 3/18. He was 63.

One of the driving forces behind the Now That’s What I Call Music! compilation series, Pederson signed Jackson to her record-breaking $80 million, four-album contract renewal during his tenure at EVP at Virgin. While there, he also oversaw the purchases of David Byrne’s Luaka Bop, Peter Gabriel’s Real World and Narada Productions.

A native of Southern California, Pedersen got his start at Capitol as director of internal audit in 1987. Two years later, he held the same post at EMI in London. As CFO at EMI London, he was part of team that orchestrated the acquisition of Virgin Records in 1992. He eventually moved to Virgin where he was an EVP for nearly 10 years.

Besides the world music labels, he launched Virgin’s Americana sub-label Back Porch Records that had a roster that included Cracker and Over the Rhine.

He created New River Co. in 2002 as a joint venture between Virgin and Narada whose roster included China’s 12 Girls Band.

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