The Living Legends Foundation Says Good-Bye to a Music Industry Legend, Adolph “A.D.” Washington
A Life Well Lived
Adolph “A.D.” Washington
July 10, 1940 – November 22, 2017
The music industry mourns the loss of a legend; former music executive, Adolph “A.D.” Washington, who passed away on November 22, 2017, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Born July 10, 1940, to William Ferguson and Ida Belle Wayne Ferguson in Scott, Arkansas, Adolph was affectionately known as A.D.
At 77-years-old, A.D. was an active and longtime member of the Living Legends Foundation (LLF). He served as chairman of the organization from 1998-2011 and was a board member at the time of his death. This year, the LLF presented him with a special award for serving as the longest chairman in the LLF’s history. A.D. was one of three chairmen to preside over the organization since its inception in 1991.
During A.D.’s 13-year tenure, he led the organization into the 21st century. He supported then President Miller London’s brainchild to institute the inaugural LLF Golf Tournament, which turned out to be a successful fundraiser for the organization.
In an interview last year with noted music journalist A. Scott Galloway, A.D. talked about his journey with the LLF and the history of the organization.
“Our golf tournament put much-needed money into the treasury to help supplement the banquet,” said A.D. “It also gave people outside of record companies—then our primary, yet shrinking source of revenue—an opportunity to participate in the fundraising process. NFL players and NBA coaches, even the sons of R&B legend Otis Redding participated. We held the first tournament in Georgia. With it being in the South, we had great participation, and people flew in from all over. So we kept it there.”
The LLF’s signature Annual Awards Dinner and Gala continued its affiliation with the Impact Super Summit in Nashville, Tennessee, and Miami, Florida until Impact ceased operation of its annual conference. The LLF Annual Awards Ceremony then moved to New York City at the Hilton Hotel for a few years.
With a temporary setback in 2010, A.D. put the annual event on hold to regain financial stability of the organization. In 2011, the LLF resumed the gala at the Highline Ballroom in the meat packing district in New York City before returning to Los Angeles in 2014.
In 2016, A.D. joined the LLF for its Silver Anniversary Gala in Los Angeles. “It’s always been my opinion that if you have an organization that rises to the needs of the people that it serves, and your administration stays solid as a rock, your chances for survival will be strong,” said A.D. “This is how the Living Legends Foundation survived; the constituency comprised of upstanding volunteers. The organization survived for 25 years without scandal. We have always been well-purposed and well-blessed.”
A.D. received his undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, with additional studies at the University of Central Arkansas at Conway. Before he became a music executive, A.D. was employed at Arkansas’ U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Department, under then-Governor Bill Clinton.
A.D. started his career in the record industry at Stax Records before moving to Los Angeles, where he held senior executive positions at MCA, Warner Bros., and Capitol Records. As Senior Vice President of MCA, he led his staff to unprecedented success with artists such as New Edition, Bobby Brown, Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, Teddy Riley, Heavy D, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Patti Labelle, Jody Watley, and Guy, among others. After leaving the music industry, A.D. formed AD Barak Corporation, an entertainment consulting firm.
A life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People, A.D. Washington is survived by this father William Ferguson, his son Kevin Jones, and his sisters Classie Ferguson and Irma Ferguson, along with a host of extended family members and friends.
On behalf of the Living Legends Foundation’s founders, officers, and board members, we celebrate the life of Adolph “A.D.” Washington. A leader, and a servant, who loved God, his family, friends, and community; and a man who lived life in purpose.
When I received the news about our beloved friend and colleague A.D. Washington, it left an indelible feeling of pain and sorrow in all of us. He has been a pioneer and leader in the music industry and an indispensable part of the development and growth of the Living Legends Foundation. When Jerry Boulding and I founded this organization in 1991, A.D. was one of the first people we called upon to join the foundation. We started the Living Legends Foundation to honor our trailblazing pioneers and lend a financial hand to those in need. A.D. embodied the principles and standards that we envisioned for the organization.
When I decided to step down as Chairman of the Living Legends Foundation, I called A.D. and asked him whether he would be interested in assuming the position of chairman, before I announced it to the officers and board members. He humbly agreed. I recommended him as my replacement knowing that under his leadership the organization would be in good hands. The rest is history. With his steadfast leadership, he guided the foundation through its toughest financial period, from the late ‘90s through the early 2000s, which was a tumultuous time in the music industry.
Words cannot describe this kind, gentle leader, mentor, professional and friend who meant so much to so many of us in the music business and beyond. His profound legacy will be remembered throughout the history of the LLF. Thank you, kind soul. You can rest in peace knowing that we all are better because of you
I heard about A.D. Washington before I met him. I had been appointed Southwest Regional Promotion Manager for Warner Bros. Records and relocated to Dallas, Texas in 1988. A.D. was one of several promotion managers from the Southwest who leaped to “Home office” from MCA Records in Los Angeles, California, where he was named Senior Vice President of Promotions.
When I was a local promotion manager, A.D. came through the market with a rock star persona. Little did I know how our lives would later be connected and a friendship would grow. First I learned that we were fraternity brothers; life members of Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. It wasn’t until I got promoted to “Home office” for Warner Bros. Records in Burbank, California did I get to know him. As both a competitor and friend, A.D. was an industry icon for sure.
In 1999, I became Senior Vice President of R&B Promotions and Marketing at Capitol Records and was tasked with reviving the label’s dormant Black Music Department. I reached out to A.D. to join the team as one of two Vice Presidents; Unice Rice was the other Vice President. Many people asked: “Why would you hire A.D., who in essence could do or take your job?” Well, that’s exactly why I hired him. I wasn’t hiring him just to be a promotions executive; I was hiring him to be my “Consigliere.” His wisdom was his best qualification and skill set. I wanted him on the team to help me educate the young staff of music executives.
We continued to serve on the Board of Directors of the Living Legends Foundation, where he became the chairman leading the foundation through some tough times as I served him as Vice President, President and succeeded him as chairman. This year, the foundation honored him for his role as the longest serving chairman in the foundation’s 26-year history. I will always remember his logical approach to life and work. It was his wisdom that helped us be successful at Capitol Records, and it was his wisdom that helped the foundation grow. He was a brother, friend, mentor and I will sorely miss his presence and wisdom.