NEW YORK – L.A. Reid, one of the music world’s top executives who helped launch the careers of myriad stars including Rihanna and Justin Bieber, has left Epic Records after reported harassment allegations.
The 60-year-old has been chairman and CEO since 2011 of Epic, a unit of Sony Music that has been home to some of the top artists in recent decades from Michael Jackson to Pearl Jam.
Sony Music late last week issued an unusually terse statement of just one line: “L.A. Reid will be leaving the company.”
The company offered no further comment. But reports Monday in music magazine Billboard and The New York Post said that Sony management terminated Reid after complaints of sexual harassment.
The New York Post, citing an unnamed source, said a female assistant told management of inappropriate remarks and physical advances by Reid including asking her to hug him in bed during a business trip.
A lawyer for Reid did not return a message seeking comment Monday. Reid on Twitter quoted novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”
Reid is considered one of music’s top tastemakers and last year released a memoir that recounted a who’s who of famous artists with whom he has worked.
Reid, who formerly headed labels Arista and Def Jam, became known in the late 1980s for producing a smooth pop sound for African American artists and jumpstarted the careers of TLC, Toni Braxton and Usher.
But his influence stretched across genres and he was famous for instinctively sensing who would become massive.
He signed Canadian rocker Avril Lavigne, R&B superstar Rihanna and, more recently, pop singer Meghan Trainor after hearing them audition briefly for him.
He also inked a contract with a teenage Justin Bieber and worked with Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez to revive their careers after their initial fame waned.
While mostly behind the scenes, British television viewers saw him for two seasons as a judge on singing contest “The X Factor,” an experience he later decried as lowering his artistic bar.
Reid’s exit marks a strikingly swift move after Sony endured public criticism for declining to respect singer Kesha’s requests to exit a contract.
Kesha has sued producer Dr. Luke, accusing him of raping her and tormenting her psychologically. He denies the charges and says she remains contractually bound to his Kemosabe Records, a Sony imprint. — AFP