January 1, 1942 - February 18, 1995 (age 53)
Denny Cordell is the type of guy who, in his 30-year music career, was at nearly every right place at the right time. Born in Buenos Aires but raised in England, Cordell met and befriended Island Records founder Chris Blackwell at the tender age of 21, just as Blackwell's label was taking off; Cordell ended up running the Island subsidiary Aladdin. However, after forming a close association with the Moody Blues, Cordell split with Island to do independent production with the group. The result was Go Now, one of the Moodies greatest singles, and it led Cordell to setting up his own production company, Straight Ahead, which enlisted the Move and Procol Harum as clients. Already a savvy veteran at this point, Cordell had another twist of fate when he met a young blue-eyed soul singer named Joe Cocker. For the next several years, Cordell masterminded the young Englishman's career to textbook perfection, the obvious example being his production and arranging credits on Cocker's legendary rendition of the Beatles' With a Little Help from My Friends. In 1970, Cordell moved into the next phase of his career when he formed a label with studio sessionman extraordinaire Leon Russell, whom he had met while touring with Cocker. The label, Shelter, issued all of Russell's early solo output, including, Leon Russell the Shelter People and Carny, and was also the home of rocker Tom Petty's first release. Among other notable releases in Shelter's history was Bob Marley's first American single Duppy Conqueror. As the '80s came along, Cordell left the music industry to foster another of his loves, horse racing, but the early '90s saw a renewed partnership with Island Records and Chris Blackwell. The result? Cordell was responsible for signing the Cranberries and their debut album, Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We? became a smash hit going platinum several times over. Sadly, Cordell died from lymphoma in 1995. ~ Steve Kurutz, Rovi
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