Neil Bogart, the music executive who founded Casablanca Records, rose to fame for discovering some of the biggest talents of the 1970s. He signed iconic artists such as Kiss, Donna Summer, Village People, Parliament, and Cameo, and became a trendsetter in the industry. The story of his success is captured in the biopic “Spinning Gold,” in theaters now. The movie tells how Bogart discovered Kiss, his first act. According to his son, Tim Bogart, his father signed Kiss without ever seeing them live, relying on the strength of their music. That move set him on his path to discovering more great talents.
Bogart was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Growing up in Glenwood Houses in Brooklyn, he started a laundry business when he was eight years old, a venture that became lucrative for him. He was a hustler all his life, whether it was giving away dimes for a contest or selling creative freedom to R&B legends.
Aside from discovering legendary artists, Bogart was known for his wild personality and unconventional business tactics. One notable example was his creation of the Kiss Army in 1975. Fans were required to buy albums to receive exclusive merchandise, a strategy that was ahead of its time. Bogart pushed boundaries and broke every rule to achieve success. Despite his achievements, his gambling habits and overspending caused him to fall millions of dollars into debt. The death of disco also contributed to the downfall of his label.
Bogart died in 1982 at the young age of 39 from cancer, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire music executives today. “Spinning Gold” serves as a tribute to Bogart, a Brooklyn hustler who defied the odds and left his imprints in the music industry by discovering some of the talented artists of his time.
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