I got the news via a colleague’s post on Facebook two weeks ago. A cherished, much treasured colleague I’d known for three decades ended his life suddenly. No one saw it coming. And he had just reached out to me recently wondering when I was going to be in LA next so we could get together. His name was Gary Stewart and he was a giant among men in the music/tech world. He’ll be very sorely missed.
There have been some great tributes and coverage about the impact of his life and work in all manner of publications since his death ranging from Rolling Stone to the LA Times and the New York Times. He was a master archivist in rock music, and was responsible in large part to re-issues, compilations and boxed sets of some of the most beloved artists in the rock canon primarily working with Rhino Records to bring these wonderful products to market. Gary was a truly nice guy who gave so much to everyone around him generously and graciously.
For a period of about seven years Gary worked at Apple Music as Chief Music Officer (programming deep catalog playlists); we weren’t there at the same time, but given I was responsible for launching the focus on music at Apple during my many years there, I was gratified to know that Steve (Jobs) chose him for that role — and that Apple Music was in good hands (the best!) accordingly. We got together more often during his years in Cupertino given I’m so close to the campus. I last saw him in May of 2018 in Nashville at the Music Biz conference where he and other Rhino execs delivered an outstanding panel & after-party experience. It was a memorable day/evening, and the highlight was spending time with Gary.
I’ve lost several friends and colleagues over the past few years to sudden death that was entirely unexpected — some due to health challenges they never disclosed, some to drownings, some to being shot at, others to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and others to suicide. In most cases they left us way too soon. But the real lesson here is don’t assume the people you care about are always going to be around. Let your friends, colleagues and loved ones know what they mean to you, and make time to spend with them having fun as well as meaningful conversations. Share your time & gifts with them, and let them know they matter to you and to those around them — that they make a difference.
That’s really what life is all about — not the pursuit of another dollar, but meaningful relationships and conversations, and not just amassing connections but investing time in the care and feeding of them.