Bang Records Pioneer Ilene Berns Dies
Ilene Berns, one of the most successful female independent-label chiefs ever, has died at age 73. A cause of death for the pioneering former director of Bang Records was not available.
Berns took over management of Bang at age 24 in 1968, shortly after the death of her husband, founder Bert Berns. At that time, the label had already issued hits by the likes of Van Morrison ("Brown Eyed Girl"), the McCoys ("Hang on Sloopy"), the Strangeloves ("I Want Candy") and Neil Diamond ("Solitary Man"). Ilene Berns managed that impressive catalog while adding new songmakers like Paul Davis ("I Go Crazy"), Brick ("Dazz") and Peabo Bryson ("Underground Music"), among others, over the next 11 years.
She also oversaw the company's move from New York City to an Atlanta base of operations; Bang eventually relocated its headquartered to Nashville. The label was purchased by CBS/Sony in 1979, through control of the music-publishing operations Web IV and Sloopy II Music were retained by Berns and her family.
Born on May 1, 1943, in Cleveland, the former Ilene Holub grew up in Los Angeles, and began her entertainment business career as a model and dancer. She met Bert Berns in 1963 and they married a year later, eventually having three children. Along the way, she co-wrote a song titled "You Forgot How to Love" for Patti Labelle under the name Ilene Stewart. More recently, Berns was featured in the critically acclaimed documentary Bang!: The Bert Berns Story, where she discussed the label's early years. She will also be a featured character in the upcoming Broadway musical Piece of My Heart.
After Bert Berns' death, Ilene married Eddie Biscoe, a promotion executive with Motown. They had two sons together.