Rudi Gassner, New President of BMG Entertainment, Dies at 58

Music industry veteran Rudi Gassner died Saturday, December 23 at his vacation home in the Bavarian town of Samerberg. Recently appointed as president and chief executive of BMG Entertainment, Gassner had yet to assume the helm at the record label. The cause of death was a heart attack, according to a statement issued by his family. Gassner was 58.

"The death of Rudi Gassner is a tragic loss," Bertelsmann chairman Thomas Middelhoff said Sunday, describing Gassner as "a successful media entrepreneur and a great hope for us all in view of the necessary development and reorganization of our music business."

As the outcome of a November executive shuffle, Gassner had been scheduled to take over at BMG Entertainment on January 1. His replacement will be named early next year. He was returning to the BMG fold after having been forced out as chief of New York-based BMG International last February, a division he founded when he joined the company in 1987. In the intervening months he had worked as chairman of independent record label Edel Music.

Prior to joining Bertelsmann, Gassner spent more than 18 years at PolyGram. During his tenure at BMG International, the former professional soccer player lived primarily in the US, most recently in Greenwich, Connecticut.