Henry Droz, one of the record industry's most respected and innovative figures, known as "the architect of modern music distribution," died March 27 in Los Angeles due to complications of a cardiac arrhythmia. He was 76.
A music industry leader spanning six decades, Droz was chairman emeritus of Universal Music & Video Distribution (UMVD), the sales and distribution arm of the Universal Music Group. He joined Universal in 1996 as president and became chairman in 1999. He retired from UMVD in 2000.
Prior to his tenure at Universal, Droz was president and CEO of Warner Elektra Atlantic (WEA) of the Warner Music Group for 16 years. While head of WEA, Droz established an effective nationwide distribution system of branch offices, which became a standard template for the entire music business.
Born in Detroit in 1926, Droz was an Army technical sergeant in the Criminal Investigation Division under Gen. Douglas MacArthur following World War II. After his tour of duty, Droz attended Wayne State University in Detroit, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration. After college, he began his career in the music business at the Detroit warehouse of Decca Records. He soon struck out on his own in 1954 as founder of Arc Distributing Co., an independent record distributor.
He continued to run Arc until 1972, when he started at WEA in its Burbank headquarters. He was promoted to vice president of sales a year later, and, in 1975, was named executive vice president. He became president of WEA in 1977 and held that post until retiring in 1993 to become a senior adviser to the Warner Music Group.
Droz received a plethora of awards during his career, but was most proud of receiving the T.J. Martell Foundation's Humanitarian Award and the City of Hope's Spirit of Life Award, both in 1989, and the National Association of Record Manufacturers' Presidential Award in 2000.
He is survived by his wife, June; daughter, Kathy (Mark) Droz Amstock; grandchildren, Nigel, Graham and Ayrton Amstock; and several nieces and nephews.
Donations may be sent to the T.J. Martell Foundation for Leukemia, Cancer and AIDS Research, (212) 833-5444. -- Kenneth Droz