HITS Daily Double


1960 Graduates from Columbia University.

 Begins his industry career as a songwriter for music publisher Robert Mellin, Inc., plugging Bert Berns songs.

Joins Laurie Records as songwriter/producer. Signs Music Explosion, which has its first hit with “Little Bit of Soul.”

 Produces his first charting hit, “Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl?,” the garage-rock classic from The Barbarians featuring the one-armed drummer Moulty. It peaks at #55 in the spring. Named head of Laurie’s new R&B label Providence in August; first signing is Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

Writes “Sweet Talkin’ Guy” for The Chiffons, which peaks at #10 in June.

Morris named EVP/GM of Laurie Records.

Starts Big Tree Records label with Dick Vanderbilt, distributed by Ampex, the 
tape manufacturer.

Switches distribution to Bell Records and has soft-rock hits with Lobo and England Dan and John Ford Coley.

1973 Produces and writes Brownsville Station’s biggest hit, “Smokin’ in the Boys Room.”

1974 Has his first run-in with Ahmet Ertegun. Morris puts out a record called “One Night Stand” by The Magic Lanterns. Ertegun calls to say Atlantic Records had put out the record years earlier and still owned the rights. Morris negotiates to avoid a lawsuit and Ertegun agrees to distribute Big Tree.

Morris sells Big Tree to Atlantic, becomes President of Atco.

1980 Becomes President of Atlantic Records, assuming an instrumental role in making it the leading company in the Warner Music Group.

Inks Paul Fishkin and Danny Goldberg’s Modern Records label to Atlantic, scoring a multi-platinum smash with Stevie Nicks’ first solo album, Bella Donna, and signs Pete Townshend for his first solo LP, Empty Glass.

1988 Morris and Ertegun offer Jimmy Iovine financing to start a label. Iovine joins Ted Field’s Interscope team and gets Atlantic to invest, first at 25% and later 50%. Atlantic celebrates its 40th anniversary with a concert broadcast on HBO, featuring Led Zeppelin and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

1990 Warner Communications merges with Time Inc. to form Time Warner. Doug is named Chairman/Co-CEO of Atlantic Recording Group with Ertegun. Company has its best year ever, with five in the Top 10, including Foreigner, AC/DC, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Phil Collins. Label inks co-venture deals with Rhino and Matador and revives East West for Sylvia Rhone to run.

1991 Hires Danny Goldberg as West Coast GM, later President. Starts A-Vision video company. Hits from En Vogue, Hootie and the Blowfish and Jewel bolster the bottom line; Interscope has its first hit with “Rico Suave” by Gerardo.

1992 Time Warner head Steve Ross passes, as Gerald Levin succeeds him, with Warner Music administrator Bob Morgado named Chairman/COO for Warner Music U.S. label group.

Morgado ousts Warner Bros.Mo Ostin and Elektra’s Bob Krasnow, names Morris President/COO of Warner Music U.S., then ups him to Chairman. Morris taps Val Azzoli as new President of Atlantic, installing Rhone to run Elektra with Seymour Stein. Morris wins a face-off with Morgado, naming Danny Goldberg to replace Ostin at Warner Bros., over the latter’s choice of U.K. head Rob Dickins.

1995 Levin axes Morgado, replacing him with HBO head Michael Fuchs, who ends up firing Morris for “cause,” out of a desire to impress Levin by saving the parent company the money due Doug under the terms of a recently signed, extremely lucrative deal. Fuchs himself is fired and replaced by WB Studios heads Robert Daly and Terry Semel, who proceed to make good on Morris’ lucrative contract. Seagram heir Edgar Bronfman Jr. acquires MCA Records, then hires Doug and longtime cohort Mel Lewinter to form the joint venture custom label Rising Tide in July. In November, Bronfman names Morris Chairman/CEO of the MCA Music Entertainment Group, replacing Al Teller. Rising Tide becomes a wholly owned subsidiary, renamed Universal Records by Doug.

He once again brings Iovine and Field’s Interscope label into the fold after Warner Music Group is forced to drop the record company when C. Delores Tucker makes a series of headline-grabbing attacks on gangsta rap lyrical content, particularly that of Suge Knight’s Interscope-affiliated Death Row label. MCA acquires the 50% of Interscope the label got back from Warner for a reported $200 million, a deal that will pay dividends for years to come.

1996 MCA Music Entertainment Group is renamed Universal Music Group with Doug taking on the title of Worldwide Chairman and CEO.

Bronfman shells out $10 billion for PolyGram, creating the world’s largest record company, now including A&M, Island, Def Jam and Motown, as Doug proceeds to spearhead the restructuring and integration process.

French utility and mobile phone company Vivendi merges with Seagram, including UMG, as Bronfman exits from the record business after the $34 billion pairing is approved. Morris builds his hand-picked team at UMG, with longtime colleagues Iovine, Monte Lipman, Rhone and L.A. Reid, as the record group peaks with a 40% marketshare and becomes the first label group to hit $1 billion in earnings. Doug is rewarded with a new five-year contract with two and a half years still left on his old deal. He is honored with NARASPresident’s Merit award. He is named to Vanity Fair’s annual list of top entertainment executives.

2003 Brings Mariah Carey to Island Def Jam to work with L.A. Reid and orchestrate her comeback two years later. Revives Casablanca Records with Tommy Mottola in charge.

Splits Universal Motown Records Group in two, giving Lipman Republic and Motown to Rhone under veteran exec Mel Lewinter. Vivendi acquires BMG Songs for a reported $2 billion. Doug calls out YouTube during a speech at Jessica Reif Cohen’s Merrill Lynch media summit in Pasadena, insisting they’re using his company’s core assets without proper compensation. Also files a lawsuit against MySpace for copyright infringement, later settling with the Fox company. Morris then removes company’s videos from Yahoo, AOL, etc., demanding monetary payments in place of promotion. After several months, the companies agree to pay royalties on videos, setting license precedent for industry, while establishing the music video-on-demand marketplace.

2007 Morris sets month-to-month agreements for Apple’s iTunes, thereby setting the template for other music and content companies to follow.

UMG celebrates an unprecedented 11th consecutive year leading the industry in marketshare.

Morris is honored by the City of Hope with its prestigious Spirit of Life award, raising a record $10 million for cancer research.

2009 Morris takes the evolution of online music videos to the next level by convincing Google Chairman Eric Schmidt to have YouTube partner with UMG, Sony Music and Abu Dhabi Media Group to launch Vevo, the premier music and entertainment video network. Within its first month, Vevo becomes the #1 music destination on the Web.

It’s announced that Morris’ hand-picked successor will be UMG International head Lucian Grainge, who’ll share co-CEO duties with Doug until the end of the year, at which point he will take on full CEO duties. In January, Doug gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at Hollywood and Vine.

2011 In March, it’s announced Doug will take over Sony Music as CEO, succeeding Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, beginning in July. Within his first four months, he brings in L.A. Reid as Chairman/ CEO of Epic Records; at RCA, he promotes Peter Edge to CEO and Tom Corson to President/COO; Lewinter joins the company as EVP of Label Strategy; and Edgar Berger is named President/CEO, International.

Co-produces and is lead financier of the Broadway hit Motown: The Musical.

Hires Jason Iley as CEO of Sony Music U.K. Receives the Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Signs a long-term deal with Adele. Hires Randy Goodman in July as Chairman/CEO of Sony Music Nashville. Receives an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music.

 Cedes Sony Music CEO responsibilities to Columbia’s Rob Stringer while retaining his Chairman’s post.