‘A True, Classy Gentleman’: Oscar A. Cohen Passes
Steven Ryan/Getty Images – Oscar Cohen speaking at the Louis Armstrong Stadium Dedication Ceremony, Aug. 22, 2018.
The ceremony took place at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City.
Oscar A. Cohen, owner and president of the world-famous agency Associated Booking Corporation (ABC), passed away April 10, 2020, aged 92.
Cohen’s 65-plus year career in the music business began at the age of 14, when he started out as an office boy for ABC founder Joseph G. “Joe” Glaser.
He worked his way up through the ranks and helped build many great jazz, R&B, rock and reggae careers.
As Vice President of ABC, Cohen was working with The Allman Brothers, Rod Stewart, Alice Cooper and the late Bob Marley, amongst other.
He took over ABC when its founder Joe Glaser passed in 1972. B.B. King, Dr. John, Anita Baker, Roberta Flack, Bernie Mac, Teddy Pendergrass, The O’Jays, The Whispers, Mary J. Blige and The Duke Ellington Orchestra are just some of the iconic names Cohen called clients.
Cohen might be best known for being the publicist and later tour manager for Louis Armstrong, who was also represented by ABC in a time when the agency also represented Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Bob Hope and Shirley Bassey.
Cohen was Louis Armstrong’s road manager until 1969, upon the death of Glaser, Cohen became Armstrong’s manager.
Cohen was the sole and exclusive agent to the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, Inc., which is the Louis Armstrong Estate, and of which Cohen was a founding member.
As can be read on the website of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, Cohen served five terms on the Board of Governors at the Friars Club and two terms as Treasurer; received an honorary award from Rev. Ralph Abernathy on behalf of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Jr. Foundation; served as a member of many other human rights organizations.
The obituary taken out in the New York Times states: “Oscar Cohen resided in Boca Raton, FL and Long Island, NY. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Eleanore Cohen and their three daughters, Lisa Cohen and husband Luis Androuin, Maggie Howard and husband Andrew Howard and Joanne Cohen and partner, Russell Rosenberg.
“He was an adoring grandfather to his grandsons, Harry and Jack Howard and Michael and Jamie Schenker. Oscar is also survived by his sisters, Florence Cavanaugh and Billie Desisto and his brother, David Cohen.”
Guest book entries from family, colleagues and friends describe Cohen as “a great man,” “the best Dad,” a “loving husband,” and “a true, classy gentleman.”
Jeff Epstein, co owner of Universal Attractions Agency, told Pollstar: “Mr. Cohen was a great man – tough, personable and a great sense of humor. He always kept me on my toes. I’ll never forgot the time he took my file cabinet away because I was organizing papers on the floor of my office. He figured I didn’t need one anymore!
“[Universal Attractions co-owner] Jeff Allen and I worked for ABC at different times in our careers. Without Mr. Cohen there would be no us. Thanks for everything Mr. Cohen, you are a true American treasure.”