Walter Yetnikoff, who led CBS Records during the boom years of Michael’s ‘Thriller’ album, has died of cancer, aged 87.
In one of his first acts as president of CBS Epic, Yetnikoff signed the Jacksons, snatching them from Motown Records. Initially he wasn’t overly impressed with their self-titled first album in 1976, however he started to have a close relationship with Michael, and supported him in expanding into solo work.
At the 1984 Grammy Awards, Michael brought Walter Yetnikoff on stage, calling him “the best president of any record company.”
“That’s unheard-of,” Mr. Yetnikoff bragged afterward, “You don’t bring record executives up at the Grammys, ’cause no one’s interested. I went back to CBS and said, ‘Give me another $2 million for that!’”