Pierre Cossette, 1923–2009

September 11, 2009 -- 5:28 pm PDT
"Father" of live GRAMMY Awards telecast has died


Pierre Cossette, the longtime executive producer of the GRAMMY Awards, has died. He was 85.

Cossette first began producing the GRAMMY Awards in 1971, which was the first nationally televised live GRAMMY ceremony, and continued to executive produce the show for another 35 years. He also was instrumental in establishing the annual Latin GRAMMY Awards telecast and served as executive producer of that show for several years.

"It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our dear friend and father of the GRAMMY Awards, Pierre Cossette," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "Pierre was a creative visionary and one of the most accomplished, versatile and respected producers. It was because of his passion and dedication that the GRAMMY Awards came to network television close to 40 years ago. But for those of us lucky enough to know him personally, we will surely miss his warmth, wit, easy laugh, and the sparkle in his eye every time he recounted one of his many great showbiz stories. Our sincere condolences go out to his family and friends."

Cossette retired as active producer of the GRAMMYs in 2005, leaving his son John Cossette along with Ken Ehrlich at the helm. Since then, he held the position of Executive Producer Emeritus of the GRAMMY Awards and continued his successful career as a Broadway producer. He produced the six-time Tony winner "The Will Rogers Follies," "The Scarlet Pimpernel" and "Tommy Tune Tonite," and developed a musical inspired by the life of Woody Guthrie. Cossette's past television series include "The Andy Williams Show," "The Sammy Davis Jr. Show," "The Glen Campbell Music Show" and "Sha Na Na." Prior to producing, Cossette was an agent, manager, and Las Vegas legend for booking the world's biggest acts including the Rat Pack, Mae West, and many others.

His autobiographical book, Another Day In Showbiz, tells the story of an unassuming young man from rural Quebec, Canada, who worked his way to the top of the world of glitz and glamour, galvanizing the music industry in the process. He offers his vision of the industry, detailing stars, directors, producers, movies, TV companies, record companies, and the art, creation, and exhibition of breathtaking stage productions.

Cossette was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2005 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He received The Recording Academy's Trustees Award in 1995, and also is a 2005 Latin Recording Academy Trustees Award recipient. Over his long association with the GRAMMY Awards, he generously supported The Recording Academy's charities, MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation. The GRAMMY Museum at the Pierre Cossette Center at L.A. LIVE — named after the "Father of the GRAMMY Awards" — includes The GRAMMY Telecast exhibit that houses footage and photos from Cossette's many years producing the show.

For historical footage of Pierre Cossette's extraordinary GRAMMY legacy, please visit The Recording Academy's official YouTube channel.