Monday, April 9, 2018

Mark Rye obituary | The Guardian

My friend Mark Rye, who has died suddenly aged 66, devoted his working life to the music business, starting as a radio-plugger before helping to run the Harvest record label and managing the pop-rock duo Marshall Hain. He continued as a distributor, author and archivist until his death.

In 2003 Mark started the website RockHistory, when the death of Pink Floyd’s manager Steve O’Rourke made him realise that memories from the golden age of British music were disappearing. The site hosts the interviews he recorded with those involved in British rock, and through it Mark also released books, CDs and film clips.

Mark, the youngest of four children, was born in Wimbledon, south-west London, but raised in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, where he attended Uphill county primary school and the local grammar school for boys. His parents, Geoffrey Rye, a librarian, and Bessie (nee Deakin), a former teacher, were involved in folk music and dance, and Mark passed the hat at performances, establishing the link between music and business.

He developed this at Twickenham College of Technology as social secretary and, having studied for an HND in business studies, joined BBC Records as a radio plugger. He was poached to a do similar job at Raft Records (part of Warner Music) before joining EMI in 1974 to run Harvest, home of Pink Floyd, Roy Harper and Be-Bop Deluxe.

Mark signed Marshall Hain, then swapped roles and managed the band before their 1978 worldwide hit Dancing in the City took off. He added the singer Bill Nelson to his management roster – even Roland Rat received Mark’s nurturing and advice.

Learning about making compilations of archive favourites at EMI enabled him to add his business acumen to Colin Miles’s See For Miles catalogue label (which reissued back catalogue compilations) just as the CD boom started. He started Magpie, a catalogue distribution and mail order service, in 1990.

Ten years later he formed Highnote, a music publishing company with Steve Waters. When they spotted that no charts existed before 1952, they published The British Hit Singles Jan 1940-Oct 1952: The Missing Charts (2013), accompanied by CDs of hits from those charts.

Mark was a hockey advocate all his life. A broken leg threatened to end his playing career at 17 but he fought back with characteristic tenacity and added squash to his repertoire. In 1983 he joined Surbiton hockey club, near his home in Thames Ditton, Surrey, intending to play, but he was soon coaching and managing teams and organising events, becoming club captain and latterly president.

Mark married Gill Hart in 1978. She survives him, as do their children, Claire and Sam, grandchildren, Ash and River, and his siblings, David and Esther.


No comments: