Alan E. Lott, 67, city music promoter

Alan E. Lott got his start as a record buyer for Gimbels in Phila.
Alan E. Lott got his start as a record buyer for Gimbels in Phila.
Posted: March 17, 2014

Alan E. Lott, 67, a legendary music promoter who began his career in the Philadelphia record business, died from a heart attack Wednesday, March 5, in Pasadena, Calif.

Mr. Lott climbed the industry ranks to become one of the first black record promoters, said his longtime friend Philadelphia radio personality Sonny Hopson.

"He got to be one of the top promoters," said Hopson, who was a major radio personality at WHAT-AM when Mr. Lott got his start. "He was good at that. He was a likable person."

A South Jersey native, Mr. Lott spent more than 40 years in the industry and worked with such musical giants as Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Kirk Franklin, and Brian McKnight.

He enjoyed music of all genres and helped break hip-hop into the mainstream, working with artists such as the Fat Boys, Public Enemy, and the Sugarhill Gang.

Mr. Lott earned a reputation during a bygone era, when promoters stalked radio stations and pressured disc jockeys to give air time to their artists.

"Every record he would bring you he would tell you it was a hit," Hopson said, chuckling. "Half the time, you had to make it a hit."

It was not unusual for promoters to wait in the station parking lot for disc jockeys to arrive for their shift. They would usually have something to offer - coffee and doughnuts or a sandwich.

"You knew who Alan Lott was. He was just that kind of guy," said WDAS on-air personality Patty Jackson, an acquaintance for more than 30 years. "He was someone you didn't forget. He was known all over."

Jackson said Lott was a passionate advocate for the artists he pushed. "He was going to make you fall in love with that record. He had such a wonderful spirit," Jackson said.

Mr. Lott began his career at Marnel Record Distributors in Philadelphia in the '60s.

He later joined the promotion team at Warner-Elektra-Atlantic.

With five other black music promoters, Mr. Lott founded the Philadelphia Record Promoters Association and served as its first president, fellow promoter Buddy Dee said.

"He was a great person," Dee said. "When he walked in, he just captivated a room."

Mr. Lott became one of the first black senior vice presidents of promotion for Atlantic Records in New York. He later worked for Buddha Records and several other record companies.

In 1991, he formed Coast II Coast Marketing & Promotion with his wife, Lygia. He stopped working several years ago after suffering a stroke.

Born in Philadelphia in 1946, the third-oldest of nine children, Mr. Lott grew up in Moorestown.

After graduating from Moorestown High School, he spent a short time in the U.S. Army Reserve.

He was employed at the Gimbels Department Store in Center City, where he became a record department buyer, the beginning of his break into the record business.

His daughter Danielle described him as "a modern renaissance man" because of his love for music, art, photography, and literature.

"He loved listening to music of all genres," she said. She followed her father into the music business along with her brother Damon. "He was living his dream."

In addition to his son and daughter, Mr. Lott is survived by daughters Aja, Briana, and Bianca; another son, Harlan; six grandchildren; two sisters; and a brother.

A private memorial hosted by Jackson will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 29, at the Mansion in Voorhees. A private memorial was held last week in California.

856-779-3814 @mlburney

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