Grammys Visionary, Producer Pierre Cossette, Dead at 85

September 14, 2009 11:22 AM ET

Pierre Cossette, the man responsible for bringing the Grammy Awards to television, passed away on September 11th at the age of 85 after suffering congestive heart failure in Montreal, the New York Times reports.

Along with music executive Lou Adler, Cossette was a founder of Dunhill Records, a label that oversaw releases by Three Dog Night and the Mamas and the Papas before Cossette segued into television production in the 1970s. It was on the small screen that he would make his biggest mark, helping elevate the Grammy Awards to an international TV event on par with the Oscars and Tonys.

Look back at the Grammys' most memorable moments.

When the Grammys first began in 1957, the ceremony wasn't televised. Seeing the potential in music's biggest night, Cossette purchased the awards' rights from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and managed to convince ABC to broadcast the first Grammys in 1971 with singer Andy Williams serving as host. Two years later, the ceremony jumped to CBS — where it remains to this day. Thirty-eight years later, the Grammy Awards remain one of the most significant nights for both the music and the television industries. Cossette was also instrumental in the establishment of the Latin Grammy Awards.

He served as executive producer of the Grammys until his retirement in 2005. His son John Cossette is now an executive producer, alongside long-time producer Ken Ehrlich. Because of his contributions to both industries, Cossette was awarded a star on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canada's Walk of Fame, making Cossette one of only 124 Canadians to receive that honor.

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