The man Billboard Magazine named “World’s Top Promotion Man,” Pete Bennett, 77, died suddenly of a heart attack Thanksgiving day in Connecticut.
Bennett, born in the Bronx, NY is credited for propelling the careers of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, The Who, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor and many others.
Described by Paul McCartney as “the promotion man responsible for getting the Beatles on the radio,” Bennett was named Director of Promotion for the Beatles’ Apple Records label in 1968. After the break-up of the group, Bennett guided the promotional efforts to radio for the solo releases by John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and McCartney.
Over the years in interviews when Bennett was asked why his services were in such demand, he would say “I make unknowns into stars and stars into superstars.”
Among his many legendary achievements, Bennett, working side-by-side with Harrison, produced the world’s first global charity event, “The Concert for Bangladesh,” at Madison Square Garden in 1971. The former Beatle requested Bennett to use his clout and relationships to secure some of the biggest rock stars of the time, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Leon Russell and Billy Preston.
In 1975 when Michael Jackson and his brothers were looking to leave Motown Records, Bennett orchestrated a deal to bring the Jacksons to Epic Records
Well known for his eye for talent, Bennett is recognized as the first music executive to discover Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler, when he was in a Yonkers, NY band called Chain Reaction.
As impactful as Bennett’s accomplishments were in the music industry, his long list of relationships spanned a who’s who of politics, sports, television and movies, including Bob Hope, Muhammad Ali, Richard Nixon, Elvis Presley, Dick Clark, Nat King Cole, John Wayne and Bobby Vinton.
Bennett is survived by his wife of 47 years, Annette, and his two sons, Peter and Joseph, all of Connecticut. Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the American Heart Association.