DAVID PLATZ, the music publisher, died two weeks ago from motor neurone disease. He had endured the condition for 17 months, remaining mentally alert but totally crippled - a sad and degrading end to an illustrious career.
Platz was born in Hanover of Jewish stock. His parents, aware of the political climate in pre-war Germany, sent their two children to Britain for safe keeping, and so, at the outset of the Second World War, he and his sister, Gina, arrived in Neasden, Middlesex.
No formal musical training, not even a great love of music, led him to his first job. It was obtained by chance. His guardian thought a school-leaver would be suitably placed in the publishing world. David was impressed with the suggestion, thinking it would be literary, and disappointed to find it was music. Aged 14, he found himself as an office boy with Southern Music in the then shrine of music publishers, Denmark Street, London. His early business awareness soon took him through the copyright department, then to the Latin-American music division, as manager.
Some few years later a new managing director of Southern Music was required but Platz, at 28, was considered too young for the post and turned down. The opportunity arose for him to leave Southern Music and front a new company, Essex Music. It began in a poky office in dingy Denmark Place but it was not long before the firm had moved to Denmark Street - No 4. Platz had achieved 'Tin Pan Alley' in his own right.
Essex Music was a success story from its outset, and due solely to the personality of the man that ran it. The general impression of a music publisher was of a brash, cigar- smoking individual with a dismissive and largely pessimistic view of most new music that came his way. But not so David Platz. Softly spoken - sometimes so soft you could barely hear him - he exuded confidence and honesty, and those attributes brought budding songwriters to his door. The time was the late Fifties / early Sixties and Platz at Essex Music was the pioneer publisher to see.
The Rolling Stones were early conquests and then the clients poured in. Platz was an encourager of talent, whether in folk, trad jazz, pop or ballad. The Moody Blues, Procol Harum, the Who, Johnny Dankworth, Ralph McTell, Dudley Moore, Lonnie Donegan, David Bowie, Marc Bolan of T. Rex, even Paddy Roberts (he of the ballads and comic songs), all joined him.
With a successful writer Platz would form a new company - it gave the client added financial incentive and kept him faithful to the parent firm. At one time, Platz was a director of over 30 such companies.
He was interested in show music as well as single songs. When Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse had an idea for a musical, their mentor was David Platz. Advice, encouragement and finally a publishing contract was furnished for the show we know as Stop the World - I Want To Get Off, closely followed by The Roar of the Greasepaint - the Smell of the Crowd. Platz even had an interest in the music from Lionel Bart's Oliver.
He also founded two record labels, Fly and Cube, and, from 1973 to 1986, served as a publisher director of the Performing Rights Society. In 1967 he established his own publishing company, Bucks Music, and he continued his entrepreneurial activities right to the end.
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