RENO (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Veteran entertainment attorney Johanan Vigoda passed away in Reno on Nov. 17 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
Born in New York, Vigoda was best known as the hard-nosed attorney who negotiated Stevie Wonder's "lifetime" deal with Motown, which gave Wonder creative control over the contents of his records. Wonder later included Vigoda as the judge who sentencing the young man in the story to 10 years in prison in the extended version of Stevie Wonder's hit "Living for the City."
Vigoda also negotiated the Beatles first label deal in the U.S., representing Vee-Jay Records and was also one of the first attorneys for the legendary Atlantic Records.
Vigoda was also known for his somewhat offbeat approach to life, described by Bob Lefsetz as someone who went on "exotic diets and played the part of a homeless guy, walking around Venice Beach in a faded blue sweatshirt, his wild hair a ‘blowin." Legend has it that Vigoda negotiated Wonder's new Motown contract while standing on his head, doing yoga.
Harris Goldberg, a long-time friend of Vigoda's related some memories that included Vigoda living at the Continental Hyatt House(Riot Hotel) on Sunset for months at a time. "He made the coffee shop his office spreading papers on all the tables," Goldberg told CelebrityAccess.
"Later in life, he became a classic libertarian, which added crazy political phone calls. He was a gem and a very memorable character and a dear friend," Goldberg added. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers