RIP: Amos Heilicher, Owner of Soma Records, Founder of Musicland Chain, Independent Distributor

From The Minneapolis-St.Paul Star Tribune:

He was considered one of the most powerful people in the music industry, landing on an Esquire magazine list in 1970 with Mick Jagger, Paul Simon and Motown founder Berry Gordy. Amos Heilicher could take a local record such as the Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird," the Castaways' "Liar, Liar" or Dave Dudley's "Six Days on the Road" and make it a national hit.

Heilicher, the godfather of the Minnesota record business, died Sunday of pneumonia at University of Minnesota Hospitals Fairview. He was 90.

"He was working on Wednesday, and that evening he went to the hospital," said his son, Ira Heilicher, a Minneapolis businessman. "His life was to make deals and work and be productive."

Heilicher was powerful because he was involved in so many facets of the music business: an indie record label (Soma, or Amos spelled backwards), distribution of major-label recordings to retail shops, "rackjobbing" (running record departments for dime stores and department stores) and retail (the Musicland and Discount Records chains). At their peak, Heilicher's companies accounted for about 10 percent of all recordings sold in the United States.

- Soma Records Wikipedia entry
- Musicland Wikipedia entry
- Billboard article: "Musicland Founder Heilicher Dies"

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