Capitol’s Livingston Dies

Alan W. Livingston, the music executive who signed the Beatles during his tenure as president of Capitol Records and created Bozo the Clown, has died. He was 91.

Livingston died Friday of age-related causes in his Beverly Hills home, said his stepdaughter, Jennifer Lerner.

Livingston began his multifaceted career in show business as a writer and producer of children’s read-along record albums for Capitol Records.

When he moved into executive positions at Capitol Records in the early 1950s, Livingston signed Frank Sinatra, then at a low point in his career, and introduced him to arranger Nelson Riddle. Together, the pair produced “I’ve Got the World on a String” and “Young At Heart,” which led to Sinatra’s comeback.

Livingston left the record label in the late 1950s to work in television, where he produced the western series “Bonanza.” He returned to Capitol Records as president in the 1960s, when he signed the Beach Boys and Steve Miller and the Band.

When Livingston heard the Beatles song “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” he agreed to release the single and brought the Fab Four to the United States in 1964 to promote it. Capitol, which was partly owned by the Beatles’ record company EMI in the United Kingdom, earlier had rejected the group’s initial hit singles as unsuitable for the American market.

“He had great taste and judgment, as far as musical talent, and as an executive, he was always very mentoring, very supportive,” said Neil Portnow, the president and CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, who worked with Livingston in the 1970s.

He came up with the Bozo the Clown character for the 1946 album “Bozo at the Circus,” which became a hit and spawned a cottage industry of merchandise and the television series featuring the wing-haired clown.

In addition to Lerner, Livingston is survived by his wife Nancy Olson, one son, one daughter, and another stepdaughter.

His late brother Jay Livingston, who died in 2001, was a composer who teamed with songwriter Ray Evans to produce such standards as “Mona Lisa,” “Silver Bells” and “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” and the theme music for “Bonanza.”