Morton “Morty” Craft, a musician/producer/songwriter who established and ran numerous record companies in the 1950s and ‘60s, died on 1/27 at the age of 101.

A big band saxophonist, Craft moved to the business side as co-owner of Bruce Records, which hit with its first release, The Harptones’ “A Sunday Kind of Love.”

He launched his own Lance Records in 1957, scoring a Top 20 hit with The Shepherd Sisters’ “Alone,” which he wrote with his wife, Selma. (Craft also co-wrote The Willows’ “Church Bells May Ring” and, with Percy Mayfield, “Hide Nor Hair,” which Ray Charles was the first to record). When Mercury Records signed The Shepherd Sisters, he went with them as an A&R exec.

After a few months, however, Craft left Mercury to become Recording Chief and Director of Single Record Sales at MGM, enjoying hits with Connie Francis’ “Who’s Sorry Now,” Sheb Wooley’s “The Purple People Eater,” Tommy Edwards’ “It’s All in the Game” and “It’s Only Make Believe” by Conway Twitty.

In 1959 he was given the keys to the Warwick label, which had immediate success with Johnny and the Hurricanes’ “Crossfire.” Craft signed a string of R&B stars from the 1940s and '50s—Louis Jordan, Roy Milton, Shirley and Lee—in hopes of reviving their careers. The label’s biggest hit was the instrumental “Wheels” by The String-a-Longs. Among his other signings were the young Paul Simon (as Jerry Landis) and Art Garfunkel (as Artie Garr), Donald Byrd, Pepper Adams and The Tokens, of which Neil Sedaka was a member.

He also released records under his own name, including “Swinging Gypsies” and the album Jazz in Black Tie by Morty Craft and His Orchestra.

Craft, who also did a stint in A&R at ABC-Paramount, was named Creative Director of 20th Century Fox Records in 1964.