American Go E-Journal

AGA President Andy Okun’s Father, Milton T. Okun, Music Producer for John Denver, Peter, Paul and Mary Dies

Tuesday November 15, 2016

AGA president Andy Okun’s father, music producer-arranger Milton T. Okun, who worked with John Denver, Placido2016.11.15_milton-okun-gold-records Domingo and Peter, Paul and Mary among other artists, died Tuesday in Beverly Hills. He was 92. Okun died at home five weeks shy of his 93rd birthday.

A child prodigy pianist, Okun became a music teacher in the New York public school system, before his love for folk music — he was part of the folk quartet The Skifflers and also recorded several albums of his own in the 1950s — drew him into arranging and conducting, including two seasons with Harry Belafonte.

Okun was fired by Belafonte, but the parting proved to be a blessing in disguise, kick-starting his multi-decade career as a music producer. Under his guidance, Peter, Paul and Mary would become one of the music industry’s most successful folk ensembles. Okun also worked with The Brothers Four, The Chad Mitchell Trio and soloists such as Odetta, Laura Nyro, Tom Paxton and John Denver, whom he discovered and guided until the singer’s 1997 death in a plane crash. Okun was known for bringing classical arrangements into the folk/pop idiom, as evidenced with “Perhaps Love,” a gold record duet pairing Denver and opera great Domingo.

PBS named Okun as one of the three most important music producers of all time, along with Quincy Jones and Sir George Martin, and he would collect more than 75 gold and platinum records and 16 Grammy Award nominations for his work.
In 1960, Okun and his wife, Rosemary, founded Cherry Lane Music Publishing Co., which grew into one of the largest independent music publishers. He sold Cherry Lane to Sony BMG in 2010. With his wife, Okun was a founding member and major supporter of the Los Angeles Opera and pivotal in bringing Domingo to Los Angeles as the LAO’s artistic director. Okun’s career is detailed in a 2011 memoir, “Along the Cherry Lane: Tales from the Life of Music Industry Legend Milt Okun.” Adapted from a longer obituary in the Beverly Hills Patch.  Read Okun’s obit in Billboard here.

Funeral services will be private. Post condolences on Andy Okun’s Facebook page.

Categories: U.S./North America