Responsible for guiding the careers of Diana Krall, Natalie Cole and countless other best-selling jazz and pop artists, producer and record company executive Tommy LiPuma amassed more than 30 Grammy nominations and ... Read more »
Responsible for guiding the careers of Diana Krall, Natalie Cole and countless other best-selling jazz and pop artists, producer and record company executive Tommy LiPuma amassed more than 30 Grammy nominations and gold/platinum albums to become one of the most successful music industry heavyweights in his genre. Born in Cleveland, OH in 1936, LiPuma first developed a passion for music as a young child when an extended bone infection caused him to find solace in the hits of Ruth Brown, Big Maybelle and Nat King Cole that were played constantly on his bedside radio. Initially intending to follow in his barber father's footsteps, he later swapped the scissors for the saxophone when he was invited to tour with a local band and soon after landed his first industry job as an entry-level employee for a Cleveland music distributor. After moving to Los Angeles to work as a promotional representative for Liberty Records, LiPuma oversaw demo sessions from the likes of P.J. Proby, Randy Newman and Jackie DeShannon and scored his first charting single as a producer with The O'Jays' 1965 release, "Lipstick Traces." LiPuma added to that tally after joining Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss' A&M label as a staff producer, working on hits such as The Sandpipers' "Guantanamera" and Chris Montez's "The More I See You." But inspired by the various cultural changes of the late 1960s, LiPuma then teamed up with fellow industry entrepreneur Bob Krasnow to form Blue Thumb Records, assembling an eclectic roster of talent which allowed him to expand his musical horizons including Hungarian jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo, avant-rock weirdos Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, R&B girl group The Pointer Sisters, and comedy troupe National Lampoon. In 1974, LiPuma produced Barbra Streisand's chart-topping album The Way We Were and took on an A&R staff producer role at Warner Bros. Records, where he later achieved Grammy-winning multi-platinum success with George Benson's pop breakthrough Breezin' and helmed LPs by the likes of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Al Jarreau and Michael Franks. LiPuma was appointed Vice President of Jazz and Progressive Music at the label in 1979 and spent the next decade working with artists as varied as Peabo Bryson, Dr. John and Everything But The Girl. But he achieved arguably the biggest success of his career in 1991, a year after he took over as Senior Vice President of Elektra Records, when he executive-produced Natalie Cole's triple Grammy-winning tribute to her father, Nat 'King' Cole, Unforgettable... With Love. LiPuma moved to a new home again in 1994 when he became President of GRP and Impulse! Records, a position which allowed him to reissue some of the music which he grew up with and forge a highly rewarding partnership with Diana Krall which would lead to twelve collaborative albums, three of which topped the Billboard 200. LiPuma was then appointed Chairman Emeritus at Verve Records in 2004, but still continued to work with artists on other labels, producing several tracks on Michael Buble's It's Time and helming Paul McCartney's first-ever standards album, Kisses On The Bottom.