JOLENE MADDIN BURTON
(September 23, 1932 – August 17, 2020)
Jolene was born and attended school in Vernon, Texas.
She started with A&M Records in 1963 as the bookkeeper alongside Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss and was hired as their very first employee. After 20 years Jolene retired as the Vice President of Finance for both A&M Records and Almo Music Publishing at the end of 1983.
Jolene then left with her husband Karl on their sailboat “Magic”. They cruised the world for 16 years with stops throughout the South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, Bombay, India, across the Indian Ocean to Salalah, the Sultanate-of Oman, Aden, Djibouti, up the Red Sea, the Suez Canal to Cyprus, the Historic Turkish Coast to Istanbul, the Bosporus into the Black Sea, Varna, Bulgaria, Romania and Sozopol a 2000 year old City State. While in Varna she hosted the Russian Ambassador and subsequently the Mayor of Sozopol, who gave her a personally guided tour of the Historic City. Jolene and Karl asked for permission to sail to Russia and were told they were about 2 years too soon for that to happen. When Magic sailed back to Turkey, Jolene’s popularity earned her a thorough search of their boat and a Bulgarian Naval vessel escort to Istanbul. No stowaways allowed. The year was 1987.
Jolene sailed off the obvious beaten path to see places that others rarely saw.
We dropped our anchor and visited in bays where 2000 years ago other boats and Biblical figures had also dropped their anchors.
As in her working life, she marched to a different drummer. After living in both the Keys and Daytona Beach, Florida, Jolene and Karl brought their new sailboat “Viking” back to Los Angeles and returned to the home they had left behind. They continued sailing, not only to the local Islands but also several trips down to La Paz, Mexico and around the Sea of Cortez and Hawaii. Jolene and Karl loved cruising on the big ships as well and were content reading and enjoying each other’s company as they covered the parts of the world they had not seen on their sailing voyages! Jolene was not an ordinary Lady who did ordinary things. She was an accomplished Lady who did extraordinary things!
Her life was all about hard work, family, friends and her love for Karl. In her own words she said “We have seen and done so much in our lifetimes!”.
REFLECTIONS FROM FORMER A&M AND ALMO MUSIC PUBLISHING FRIENDS!
From Chuck Kaye: Former President of Almo Music Publishing
I met Jolene in 1969 when I joined A&M Records and she was the Administrator and Comptroller. She immediately became my roadmap and point person at the company. She was warm, open and had the best smile I’d ever seen. Through my stay at A&M she helped me understand the ins and outs of their finances of the publishing business. If there was a problem she would be there to help, she was relentless. If you were on her good side she was the greatest, but if you weren’t you would be in for a hell of a battle.
Jolene and Karl got me into sailing, one of the great joys of my life. Both Jolene and I left A&M at different times. I had taken over Warner Bros Music and found the back office a mess. Jolene joined me at Warner’s and went to work, with her work ethic and intelligence she accomplished what had to be done. She then went off sailing.
A number of years later my brother Joel Sill and I started a publishing company called “Windswept Pacific”. We had acquired several companies and had some serious accounting and royalty issues and fortunately Jolene was available and joined us. She was able to get the problems solved, no small job. Yeah, again Jolene to the rescue.
I loved Jolene, she and Karl became great personal friends for over 50 years. To me Jolene was a sister I never had and her influence on me was huge. She had the heart of a lioness and was one of the most loving and caring people I’ve known.
From Joel Sill: Former Vice-President of Almo Music Publishing
I met Jolene when I was young and knew her differently. She would protect me from business bullies and scold me when I made a mistake but with Zen instructions on how to do it right the next time. Honesty and strength were two qualities she had an abundance of, she also taught by example. Chuck gave me the chance to become friends with Jolene and Karl. They just embraced you emotionally, Jolene with her unspoken love and sparkling eyes and Karl with his booming affection. Sailing was always a treat, we laughed so much at times that my stomach still hurts. I had a second chance to be with her at Windswept and she was Chuck’s and my North Star. I found some money from an old song a coal miner had written decades before which a film studio had never paid him for. He had black lung disease and was putting his daughter through college. Jolene was ebullient when the money came in so she could write him the check. I could see how it made her enormously happy to help someone in need. I revered her as a person and loved her as a friend. Irreplaceable!