December 1, 2011

Don DeVito, Producer of Bob Dylan Albums, Dies at 72

The cause was prostate cancer, a statement from Columbia said.

Don DeVito, a longtime Columbia Records executive who produced albums for Bob Dylan and others, died on Friday in New York. He was 72.
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As an artists-and-repertory executive, Mr. DeVito brought Mr. Dylan back to his longtime label, Columbia, in the mid-1970s after he had been briefly signed to Asylum Records. The first album Mr. Dylan made under the new contract was among his finest, “Blood on the Tracks.”
Mr. DeVito produced Mr. Dylan’s 1976 album, “Desire,” and his 1978 album, “Street-Legal,” along with a television special and live album, “Hard Rain,” from Mr. Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour in 1976. He produced another live Dylan album, “At Budokan,” in 1979.
Mr. DeVito’s work with Mr. Dylan was part of a career that lasted four decades at Columbia. Born in Brooklyn on Sept. 6, 1939, Mr. DeVito got started in music as a guitar player, touring with the Royal Teens and later with his own band, the Sabres. He joined CBS Records in 1967 and by the early 1970s was working in the label’s artists and repertory department. He was named vice president of A&R in 1976 and national vice president of A&R in 1981.
Mr. DeVito worked with much of the Columbia roster, including Billy Joel (for whom he produced a live album, “The Millennium Concert”), Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Aerosmith and Blue Oyster Cult. In 1989 he shared a Grammy Award for best traditional folk recording for producing “Folkways — a Vision Shared: A Tribute to Woody Guthrie & Leadbelly.”
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. DeVito had a major role in producing the Concert for New York City, a globally televised benefit concert on Oct. 20, 2001, at Madison Square Garden. It was also released as a DVD and CD.
He retired from Columbia in 2007. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, and his children, Marissa and James.

Published: November 29, 2011

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