Russ Regan, Who Signed Neil Diamond and Elton John, Dead at 89
Music industry executive Russ Regan, who secured the record contracts that made both Neil Diamond and Elton John household names, died at the of 89 on May 27, his family confirmed.
Noting that Regan had achieved No. 1 hits in four successive decades, Variety reported that he had worked with the Motown, Uni, 20th Century and Polygram labels during a career that ran from the ‘60s until the ‘90s.
He also worked with the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Smokey Robinson, and on the soundtrack for movies including This Is Spinal Tap.
“Russ Regan was there for me from the beginning at Uni Records and he knew a hit record when he heard it,” Diamond said in a statement. “‘Sweet Caroline,’ ‘Cracklin’ Rosie,’ ‘I Am … I Said’ and ‘Holly Holy’ are just a few of the hits Russ released during my time there. Russ was always on the artist’s side and would come into the studio while I was recording, and his face would light up when he knew he heard a hit song.
“He made me and a new guy that he signed after me, Elton John, worldwide superstars," Diamond continued. "Russ was a great guy all around. This is a sad loss for the music industry and the end of an era. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
John tweeted a picture of himself and Regan in the ‘70s. “RIP Russ Regan," he wrote. "Thank you for believing in me and helping launch my career.”
“He was larger than life," John’s longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin said in a statement. "A bighearted maverick, whose belief in us was a key component to our success in America.”
Regan, whose real name was Harold Rustigan, started out as a singer-songwriter signed to Capitol Records in 1959. He released the Christmas single “The Happy Reindeer” that year, and sold more than 800,000 copies of the song. He also had a brief partnership with Sonny Bono and was present the night Bono met future collaborator and wife Cher.
Regan died at his home in Palm Springs. His family did not reveal the cause of death, but asked those who wish to commemorate him consider donating to MusiCares, his favorite charity.