Obituary: Leslie Lowe

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The Independent Online
The music publisher Leslie Lowe spent his entire working life in and around music, beginning with the BBC when he was only 14 years old.

Born in Bangor, North Wales, he joined the BBC there, where the entertainment departments happened to have been evacuated during the early part of the Second World War. When National Service called he was most proud to serve with the Welsh Guards. After the war he returned to the BBC, this time working in the London Gramophone Library, servicing output in the Light Programme and the Home Service.

In 1954 he left to join the Lorna Music Company as its professional manager - and so began his life's career in music publishing. Although never actually an "A&R man" (as artists' managers are known in the recording industry), he was the shadowy figure behind dozens of pop singers of the Sixties and Seventies, including Helen Shapiro, Maureen Evans, and Clinton Ford - with a ceaseless search for suitable material for their recording careers. He moved on through 20th Century Fox Music and Burlington Music (the publishing arm of the Decca Record Company) to managerial positions at CBS Songs, United Artists, and SBK Publishing, finally coming to roost at EMI Music before retirement.

But the "retirement" was from music publishing only, for that was just part of his work. Throughout his publishing life he had worked on a book, The Directory of Popular Music, and, in 1975, this epic work appeared in print, to the gratitude and delight of media producers, presenters and DJs. It contains a wealth of information about the world's greatest songs, who wrote, published and recorded them - including record numbers, film credits, stage productions, Academy Award nominations, theme songs and signature tunes. By 1986 it had run to a second edition, and then a third in 1992. He was still working on an updated and much-expanded fourth edition at the time of his death - leaving the work filed in his computer. The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors awarded Lowe its Gold Badge of Merit in 1982 for services to the music publishing industry.

Staunch and avuncular, Lowe was easily recognised by his lofty figure, thin as a beanpole and bald with it. In 1975, in order to introduce his new book to radio producers, he held a luncheon for a few friends, intended to be a small-scale gathering. It became a regular monthly event, a dozen or so regularly turning up, and still continues.

Brian Willey

Leslie Lowe, music publisher: born Bangor, Caernarvonshire 4 April 1926; married 1948 Babette (Bobbi) Bowbrick; died Hastings, East Sussex 3 March 1997.