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RIP: Tony Martell dies at 90

Tony Martell, Founder of the T.J. Martell Foundation, Dies at 90

Tony Martell, founder and chairman of the T.J. Martell Foundation, the music industry's largest foundation for leukemia, cancer and AIDs research, has died at the age of 90.

Martell passed away Sunday (Nov. 27) at his home in Madison, New Jersey. Martell served as an executive in the music industry from the 1960s to the 1990s, earning stripes as A&R director, record label vice president and record label head. The one-time CBS Records exec worked with scores of musicians from across the musical spectrum, from jazz to rock, soul, pop, blues and heavy metal.

He launched the Foundation in 1975 in honor of his 19-year-old son T.J. who died two years earlier after battling leukemia. The project began "with a promise I made to my dying son," Martell explained in the not-for-profit's mission statement. "He asked me to raise a million dollars for cancer research so that 'no one else will have to experience what I am going through.' Although I had no fundraising experience, I agreed."

In the decades since, the organization has become the music industry's largest foundation of its type, raising more than $270 million for innovative scientific research at flagship hospitals in the United States.

Martell is survived by his daughter Debbie Martell of Florham Park, NJ. His wife of more than 65 years, Vicky, passed away in February of this year.

"Tony's smile, energy and incredible devotion will be missed beyond words. We will work even harder now to keep his memory and dream alive and one day finding a cure for the diseases that he spent his life fighting," reads a statement on the organization's Website.

Memorial plans will be announced soon.