10 December 2013

A final ride...

It’s a fragile thing, this life. Many of us in the music industry —and beyond—are mourning the loss of Milt Olin, a leading entertainment attorney who died on Sunday.

Milt was riding his bicycle in Calabasas, Calif. when he was struck by a sheriff’s patrol car. It was sudden. He was here and then he was gone. 

That’s what seems to be hitting people so hard: how can someone who was so present and so alive be here and then not be? It’s as if we can literally feel them ripped from us. 

I didn’t know Milt well, but a few months ago, my friend Derek Sivers and his family were in Los Angeles from New Zealand, where they now live. Milt had started as Derek’s attorney, but became a very dear friend.

After Derek and I had visited for awhile, Milt and his wife, Louise, showed up for their dinner date. But first, as it seemed must be Milt’s style, there were cocktails to be had and stories to be told. I had dealt with him briefly while I was at Billboard and he was probably at A&M, but I knew him more from reputation than my own experiences with him. 

Within 20 minutes, I knew that he was a character. And that he was someone I wanted to get to know and regretted not having gotten to know better when I was dealing with the people behind the scenes in the music industry on a daily basis. 

We started talking about things like politics, sex and religion, those things that you’re not supposed to discuss in polite circles—within minutes. It was very clear he didn’t pay any heed to such social proprieties. We talked about how the politics in my home state of North Carolina were going off the rails because of Tea Party influence. He quickly sussed up the situation and asked questions that revealed angles I’d never thought of and I spent much of the evening after I’d left his company examining the issue from my newly enlightened perspective...and wondering why I hadn’t thought of that. 

Mainly, I watched Milt and Derek. They had a relationship that was filled with respect, trust and deep affection, but instead of feeling exclusionary, like these things often can, it was like all of us were welcome in their circle. Nothing could diminish it. 

I’m so glad I got my very, very brief time with Milt. I can tell from what others who knew him far better are saying and writing about him that I really missed out.

Tonight’s $10 goes to City of Hope, the cancer research hospital and cancer treatment facility, that Milt, like so many in the music industry, support.

Dec. 10: City of Hope

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