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DON ZIMMERMANN,
1935-2020

Zimmerman with Tina Turner, Bhaskar Menon and Bob Seger

Music executive Don Zimmermann, who spent the bulk of his career at Capitol/EMI, heading Capitol Records in the 1980s, passed away at the age of 86 on 12/11 after battling a respiratory infection. His wife Rosa shared the sad news.

Don was a bright, innovative and engaging record man who, first as EVP/COO and subsequently as President, led Capitol from some lean years into a period of prosperity in the 1970s and ’80s, with stars including Duran Duran, Sammy Hagar, Merle Haggard, Heart, Iron Maiden, Maze, Paul McCartney, Steve Miller, Pink Floyd, Bob Seger and Tina Turner.

Don was a natural-born leader, a wise mentor, a highly accomplished music executive, a tireless supporter of creative talent and a loyal friend. Of all his many positive attributes and endearing qualities, his authenticity, decency and humanity distinguished him the most. He assembled a talented team of executives and built a stellar roster of top music artists. His genuineness and even-handed guidance made Capitol feel like a family.

He held numerous sales and marketing positions at Capitol starting in the 1960s as a district sales manager in San Francisco. He moved his way up through the ranks, spending time in Chicago and New York before landing at the Capitol Tower in 1976 as EVP/COO. He was named President of Capitol in 1982, followed by a stint as President Capitol/EMI North America, before returning to the presidency of the label in 1984. In 1987, Don relocated to London to become President of EMI International Marketing, leaving the company two years later to become an artist manager.

Known for his trademark laugh, Don was a passionate music fan; he also loved the ocean, boating, scuba diving and tennis.

Don is survived by Rosa; their four children, Richard, Michele, Eva and Stephanie; grandchildren Hayley, Jack, Ashley, Daniel, Max and Mayahuel; and great-grandchild Abby. A small family funeral is being held, and a larger celebration of his life is being planned when COVID-19 allows. He was beloved by all who knew him. His memory will live on.

Our thanks and condolences go out to publicity executive Maureen O’Connor, who worked closely with Zimmerman at Capitol, for sharing her thoughts and emotions at this difficult time.

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