Record Executive Stan Cornyn Dies at 81
Stan Cornyn, who carved out an illustrious 32-year career as Warner Bros. Records’ head of creative services, died on May 11 of cancer at the age of 81. He was on the short list of legendary record-label executives who helped push the careers of so many artists during the golden years of the '60s and '70s.
A Southern California native, Cornyn was born on July 9, 1933, and attended Yale University. He joined Warner Bros. Records at its inception in 1958, when it was founded by the parent movie studio as a means of turning out soundtracks and records for actors who could sing. But thanks to a series of shrewd indie label acquisitions, most notably Frank Sinatra’s Reprise, in 1963, the Burbank-based company quickly transformed into a major music industry power.
Cornyn distinguished himself as the company’s chief liner-note writer (he was even called the "king of liner notes” by people in the industry), winning two Grammy Awards in 1966 and 1967 for his work on Sinatra LPs.
But as liner notes dwindled in the ‘70s, Cornyn was promoted to executive VP in charge of Warner Bros.’ creative services department, and shifted his talents to devising packaging designs and materials, often comical and risque, for the fast-growing WEA conglomerate, which now also included Elektra and Atlantic.
In that role, Cornyn and his staff composed advertising copy for everyone from ABBA to Alice Cooper, Joni Mitchell to James Taylor, Black Sabbath to Fleetwood Mac, Funkadelic to the Doobie Brothers and Van Morrison to Captain Beefheart.
By the '80s, Cornyn had become a champion for technology within an ever-growing multi-national behemoth (navigating the rise and fall of Atari, owned by Warner’s parent company, along the way) and was tasked with spearheading Warner Bros.’ entry into the CD era, before wrapping up the decade as chief of WEA’s first New Media department.
Cornyn’s Warner Bros. career ended in 1990, after which he joined computer audio manufacturer Media Vision and wrote Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes and Hustlers of the Warner Music Group. He also penned a blog for Rhino Records, "Stay Tuned by Stan Cornyn."
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