Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Historical Day Marks Demise of Music Icon Jheryl Busby
Published November 6, 2008

He was on his way to vote for Barack Obama before he succumbed

The most significant day in American political history was not lost on renowned music executive Jheryl Busby who was on his way to the voting polls to punch the ticket of Barack Obama on Nov. 4 before he suddenly died. He was 59.


"He had talked about the significance of a Black man becoming president for so long and he always stayed informed on television that he would not have wanted to miss the opportunity to vote for Barack Obama and as he was getting ready he just died," said his wife of 34 years Carolyn Busby. Ms. Busby admitted that her husband was battling with diabetes and a failing kidney, but the cause of death was not immediately know and funeral arrangements are pending.

"It's bittersweet that Jheryl, who wanted Motown to be a beacon for Black executives and Black talent, should pass on such an historic day, when a Black man is being voted on for President," said Motown founder Berry Gordy.

Busby, a former Motown president and CEO, rose from the urban community of South Central Los Angeles to become one of the most influential executives in the music industry launching such acts and Boyz II Men.

"Jheryl Busby, who became the first President of Motown after I sold the company, was a good friend and a fine human being. He really loved and respected the Motown Legacy and helped to keep it alive. Despite the challenges he faced at the time, he was optimistic and committed to strengthening Motown's position in the industry. I remember that he once said: "If you are a Christian like me, you realize there is a God, and the last time I checked, he was on Motown's side," Gordy added.

Sentinel Publisher Danny J. Bakewell Sr. expressed his sincere sympathy for the Busby family for a man whom he called a friend.

"Mr. Busby was not just a personal friend, but more important was the fact that he was a friend of Black people and what he represented in music and business is a testament to steadfastness and willingness to be the great success that he had become. We should all thank God and his family for them sharing his many great gifts with us," stated Bakewell.


One of his longtime associates and co-worker at Motown, Miller London expressed sadness at the loss of another musical giant.

"It's just sad, you know. We ain't in charge of nothing," London told the Sentinel. "We had a great relationship I was one of the first people that he came to when Motown was sold to take it to the next page in 1988."

"Needlessly to say that when Jheryl came on board with Motown he took the company to another level because we were struggling at the time that Berry [Gordy] sold the company," added London

His prominent career began as a regional rep for Sax Records where he quickly advanced to the head of West Coast promotion and marketing for the label.

Busby held much promotional post at such labels as Casablanca, CBS, A&M records and Atlantic in the 1980's.

Later he joined MCA records in 1984 as vice president of Black music division, working with a roster that included stars such as Patti LaBelle and the hit singing group New Edition.

Subsequently, Busby was again promoted to president of MCA Black music and segued to Motown as president and CEO in 1988 where Boyz II Men was unveiled.

He joined Motown during its critical transition period and was primarily instrumental in keeping the giant label afloat.

He was quoted as saying during that period. "Times have changed and Motown can't be what it was in the 1960s. Today, I want to position this company as a beacon to Black executives and Black talent."

So eventually, Busby moved on to head the urban division of Dream Works records in 1998, and from there was named president of Def Soul Classics, a division of Def Jam Records.

His final music venture was the establishment of Umbrella Recordings which released Carl Thomas 2007 album 'So Much Better and Patti Labelle's first gospel album in 2006, 'Gospel According to Patti LaBelle.'

However, while music was his signature, Busby was not limited and along with pop star Janet Jackson and basketball icon Earvin 'Magic' Johnson became a major shareholder in the nation's first African American owned national bank One United.

Soul Train founder Don Cornelius knew Busby for more than 25 years and lauded him for his tremendous support of the long running television institution.

"I had the pleasure of meeting him during my three decade connection to the music industry and he was always making sure the his artist would come on the show and was one of the most supportive during the 25 years that I knew him," said Cornelius.

Busby will be remembered most for his passion and faith that he had in his race and his family.

A graduate of Fremont High School, Busby was most proud of being able to see his youngest daughter LaVonne receive her BA degree from Devry Institute.

He is survived by a son Chris (37), two daughters Ronnesha (32) and LaVonne (28), eight grand children, his father Joseph Busby of Oklahoma, twin sister Cheryl Carter of Los Angeles, a brother Ronald Busby of Colorado, brother in-law Michael Carter of Los Angeles, sister in-law Bliss Busby of Colorado and a host of other relatives and friends.


Categories: Music

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