Music Industry Veteran, Living Legends Foundation Pres. Varnell Johnson Has Died

 Music Industry Veteran, Living Legends Foundation Pres. Varnell Johnson Has Died


The LIVING LEGENDS FOUNDATION (LLF) mourns the loss of VARNELL JOHNSON. The music industry veteran Exec./LLF Pres. was 76 years old and passed away on WED (6/21) due to  congestive heart failure. He’s survived by his wife DARLENE, son VARNELL, (nicknamed “JUNE”), and daughter TRACEY. Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.The PHILADELPHIA native and Vietnam War ARMY Combat Medic’s music career included A&L DISTRIBUTORS, PHILLY GROOVE RECORDS/Head of Promotion, GRC East Coast Dir./Marketing/Promotions, EMI/UNITED ARTISTS GM/Urban Music, EMI CAPITOL LABEL GROUPS VP/ A&R /Promotion & Marketing, MANHATTAN/BLUE NOTES VP/Promotion & Marketing, JIVE RECORDS-ZOMBA VP/Promotion & Marketing (established the VERITY RECORDS Division now RCA INSPIRATION), ELEKTRA EVP, ISLAND RECORDS SVP/GM, and consulted artists and label execs with his company JUNES ENTERTAINMENT. In 2017 he was presented the LLF’s Chairman’s Award.LLF Chairman DAVID C. LINTON said, “He was a close friend, and this is a major loss. At the time he broke into the industry, he was able to work in every aspect of the business. VARNELL was one of the first Black executives to have total autonomy within the label system. “He not only signed some great artists, but he also hired other Black executives and molded so many of our careers. He had a lot of ‘firsts’ in his career. He was always caring, he promoted women, and you could always call him for advice. He was that great link.”LLF Founder RAY HARRIS added, “JOHNSON was an esteemed colleague who came out of an influential regional music market, PHILADELPHIA, where the promotion people had a strong camaraderie, one that continued through smack-talking, shop-talking marathon card games at such annual conventions as the JACK THE RAPPER FAMILY AFFAIR and the BLACK RADIO EXCLUSIVE (BRE) conference.“He was a people person, a good person to know, and also a veteran record promotion executive. I have such a deep appreciation for him because he got on board with the LIVING LEGENDS FOUNDATION right from the beginning. The organization grew substantially thanks to his participation and leadership. He was always a voice of common sense, wisdom, and calm, and we’re going to miss that voice.”LLF VP/Marketing Professional JACQUELINE RHINEHART commented, “He was the quintessential record man. He was a straight shooter and someone who was great at maintaining relationships at all levels of the industry. Johnson remained in contact with many of the artists he worked with over the years, speaking frequently with RON ISLEY, FRANKIE BEVERLY, and VALERIE SIMPSON. He never lost his role as an influencer.”

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