Peter Ikin, a former high-ranking Warner Music International executive who was one of the chief architects of the major's Australian business, has died at the age of 62 from a suspected heart attack. The Warner stalwart's passing has sent a "shock-wave" through the ranks of a company where he started back in 1975, notes Ed St John, president and CEO of Warner Music Australasia.
Ikin's friends who spoke today with Billboard all fondly remember Ikin's skills as a music man, and as an executive who had the unwavering respect of all his artists.
"It's a cliche to say it but Peter Ikin was a true record man of the times," says Philip Mortlock, creative manager at Albert Music, who first linked up with Ikin when the pair joined WEA/Warner Music Australia. "His commercial instincts were sharp, his respect for the artists paramount, his love of the music the essential ingredient."
Mortlock adds, "Peter was never a self promoter. The artists were the stars."
Along with the late Warner Music Australia -
chairman Paul Turner, it was Ikin's vision and enthusiasm, which built Warner Music's business down under, recalls St John.
“He had a role in the way the company was set up, who worked here and how the office looked,” he says. “From the moment he arrived here in 1975, he set an agenda for a marketing-driven company focused on blockbuster hits and peerless artist relations. The Seventies and Eighties were a time of massive artist egos -- Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Rod Stewart -- and Peter Ikin gained a reputation for handling superstars that was beyond compare."
Ikin retired in 2000 after a long stint as London-based Warner Music International senior VP of international marketing and artist development, a post he had held since 1991. Prior to that, he was managing director of the U.S. repertoire division of Warner Music Australia from 1987-91. He also had stints with EMI Australia.
The late executive truly belonged to an era in the Australian music industry that "has long passed," adds St John. And his role in shaping the business was a critical one.
"Most of the people who knew him well are now in their fifties and sixties. It would be easy for young people in our industry to think that his death has no relevance to them, but they'd be wrong. Great music guys are a rare commodity -- increasingly rare, some would say -- and we all owe them a debt of gratitude. So thank you, Peter Ikin, for your contribution to music."
Stephen Peach, CEO of ARIA, adds: "Peter Ikin was one of the founding fathers of the ARIA Awards. He was a driving member of the ARIA Awards board of governors, and acted as deputy chairman for the first six years.
Thanks to Peter, ARIA was privileged to have Elton John host the inaugural awards ceremony. He was also heavily involved in the nuts and bolts behind the scenes of the awards, assisting with the establishment of the judging school, eligibility and voting processes. Even after he relocated to London, Peter returned to Sydney each year to attend the awards. ARIA will forever be grateful for Peter's contribution to the ARIA Awards which have become the biggest night of the year for the Australian music industry."