Mo Ostin (born Morris Meyer Ostrofsky; March 27, 1927) is an American record executive who has worked for several companies, including Verve, Reprise Records, Warner Bros. Records, and DreamWorks. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 by Paul Simon, Neil Young, and Lorne Michaels.
Born Morris Meyer Ostrofsky in New York to a Jewish family, who fled Russia during the Russian Revolution. Ostin attended Fairfax High School (Los Angeles)) in Los Angeles and studied economics and law at UCLA. He began his career in the mid-1950s as controller at Clef Records, working for friend and neighbor Irving Granz. The company was soon renamed Verve, where he was involved with Jazz At The Philharmonic, a worldwide concert promotion operation that provided a live performance platform for the label's touring stars. Frank Sinatra tried and failed to buy Verve, which was eventually sold to MGM Records. Sinatra was reportedly so impressed by the company's artists and management style that he formed his own Reprise Records in 1960 and hired Ostin to head it. In 1963, Reprise joined forces with Warner Bros. The first rock act he signed to Reprise was The Kinks. He signed Jimi Hendrix in 1967 after seeing him perform at the Monterey Pop Festival.
Ostin spent 32 years at Warner/Reprise. He was instrumental in the acquisition of the independent Elektra label by Warner Communications as well as the subsequent formation of WEA Corporation and WEA International. Recognized as an industry titan, he served as chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America for a two-year term. After departing Warner Bros., in 1994, he went on to found the music division of the entertainment conglomerate DreamWorks SKG. In 2003, Ostin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Three years later he received The Recording Academy President's Merit Award at the 2006 Grammy Salute to Industry Icons.
A graduate of UCLA, Ostin and his late wife Evelyn played a critical role in establishing the university's Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center. The Mo Ostin Basketball Center, a state of the art training facility, was opened in October, 2017.
In May 2011, Ostin donated $10 million to his alma mater UCLA, where he earned an economics degree, for a state-of-the-art campus music facility known as the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center. He presently sits on the UCLA Board of Visitors for the UCLA School of Arts, and the USC Board of Advisors for the Thornton School of Music. In March 2015, Ostin donated $10 million to UCLA for a new basketball training facility, which will be called the Mo Ostin Basketball Center.
Ostin's wife Evelyn died in 2005; they had three children Randy Ostin (1953–2013), Kenny Ostin (1956–2004), and Michael Ostin.