8/19/1920 – 1/27/2022
His ABKCO family mourns the passing of Morton “Morty” Craft at 101 years old and celebrates his creative achievements. Label owner, arranger, producer and songwriter, Morton Craft held posts with MGM, Mercury and ABC-Paramount Records before forming his own Warwick label where he signed Johnny and The Hurricanes as well as Donald Byrd, Pepper Adams, The String-A-Longs and The Tokens whose membership at the time included Neil Sedaka.
Morty Craft was born in Brockton, Mass on August 19, 1920; he became an arranger and played sax and clarinet during the big band era. He moved to New York after WWII and built a reputation as a hitmaker through the many record labels in which he played a critical role.
Morty was a Recording Industry pioneer and he established and/or ran numerous record companies over the years and released R&B, doo-wop, rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly hits over the course of five decades.
He started Lance Records in 1957 and soon hit with “Alone” by the Shepherd Sisters, a top 20 charter that he co-wrote and was later covered by Petula Clark. He leapt to the majors that same year when he joined MGM Records as Recording Chief and Director of Single Record Sales. On his watch, the career of Connie Francis blossomed with her initial smash hit “Who’s Sorry Now.” Sheb Wooley’s “The Purple People Eater” and “It’s All In the Game” by Tommy Edwards were other notable MGM hits under Craft as well as “It’s Only Make Believe” by Conway Twitty.
Morty Craft also signed Shirley and Lee, Roy Milton, Faye Adams, Bob Crewe, Dick Haymes, and the young Paul Simon (as Jerry Landis) and Art Garfunkel (as Artie Garr). Among the significant hits he produced were “A Sunday Kind Of Love” by The Harptones, “Church Bells May Ring” by The Willows and “Alone” by The Shepherd Sisters. He was co-writer on “Church Bells May Ring” and “Alone (Why Must I Be Alone)” More recently Saint Motel’s “Sisters” was built around the song’s refrain, and its title seen as a tribute to the original and was the basis for a recent holiday-themed commercial from Apple. “It’s On,” recorded by Naughty by Nature, used a sample of “Curro’s” recorded by Donald Byrd and the Pepper Adams Quintet and featuring Herbie Hancock from the Warwick catalog, while Joan Jett’s “Nag” is an update of The Halos version first released by 7 Arts with which Craft was affiliated. Craft co-wrote “Please Love Me Forever” which was first recorded by Tommy Edwards with later versions by Cathy Jean and The Roommates and Bobby Vinton. Warwick also released a series of instrumental albums by Morty Craft and The Singing Strings.
As a producer, promoter, arranger, musician and deal maker, Morty Craft stands as one of the music industry’s most notable “record men.” He is survived by his children, son Alan Craft and daughters Chris Weinberg, Carrie Craft and Tiffany Craft, who will continue to let his legacy and music impact the world.