Terry Tolkin, Who Brought Stereolab and Butthole Surfers to Major Labels, Dies at 62

Terry Tolkin, a music industry executive and journalist who elevated bands like Stereolab and Butthole Surfers to bigger labels in the 1980s and 1990s, has died. He was 62, a representative confirmed to Pitchfork.

Tolkin’s involvement in music spanned media, DJing, label operations, and event promotion. As a writer for the magazine Rockpool, Tolkin was credited with coming up with the phrase “alternative music” to describe an emergent categorization beginning in the late 1970s.

In the 1980s, Tolkin was a busy presence in New York, working in A&R while DJing and booking shows at the Danceteria and CBGB in his off hours. He brought Butthole Surfers to Touch & Go Records and eventually led his own label, No.6 Records, which was a subsidiary of Rough Trade. The label’s releases included projects by Tindersticks, Vegetarian Meat, and Jennyanykind. Tolkin was also responsible for the 1989 compilation The Bridge: A Tribute to Neil Young, which featured Nick Cave, the Pixies, Sonic Youth, and the Flaming Lips.

From 1992 to 1996, Tolkin worked in the A&R department at Elektra Records. He signed Stereolab to the label, where they released 1993’s Jenny Ondioline, 1994’s Mars Audiac Quintet, and 1996’s Emperor Tomato Ketchup. He also brought Afghan Whigs and Luna to the label.

In 2015, Luna’s Dean Wareham shared some of the band’s early demos as a fundraiser to help Tolkin through a serious illness and attendant medical bills. According to Wareham, who posted a tribute on Instagram, Tolkin had been living in New Orleans. “Terry was a natural raconteur and matchmaker, and a joy to be around. His bands loved him and he always had our backs,” Wareham said in a statement to Pitchfork.

Source : Pitchfork