Monday, December 25, 2000
Newly named BMG Entertainment president dies
MUNICH, Germany (AP) -- Rudi Gassner, a veteran music industry executive who was about to take over leadership of BMG Entertainment, died while vacationing in Germany. He was 58.
Gassner died Saturday morning of what was believed to be a heart attack in his vacation home in the southern Bavarian town of Samerberg, his family said in a statement.
German media conglomerate Bertelsmann -- BMG's parent company -- had announced last month that Gassner would be returning to lead BMG as president, chief executive and chairman-designate starting Jan. 1.
'The death of Rudi Gassner is a tragic loss,' Bertelsmann chairman Thomas Middelhoff said Sunday in a statement. Gassner 'was a successful media entrepreneur and a great hope for us all in view of the necessary development and reorganization of our music business.'
Bertelsmann said it would decide on Gassner's replacement early next year.
Gassner was returning to BMG after being forced out in February from his job as president and chief executive of BMG International, which he founded when he joined Bertelsmann in 1987. Since then, he had served as chairman of Edel Music, an independent record company.
The opening at the top of BMG came after its two top executives were ousted in a realignment of the company's online strategy. That came less than a week after the company announced an online song-distribution partnership with Napster Inc., but BMG has denied the two were related.
Before Bertelsmann, Gassner spent more than 18 years with PolyGram.
Born in Munich, Gassner played professional soccer in Germany before getting into the music industry. He has lived in the United States for the past 13 years, most recently in Greenwich, Conn.
He is survived by his wife, Brook, and four children.
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