Publicist Karen Sundell said Dileo died in the morning. The cause of death was not immediately available, but he had recently experienced complications following heart surgery.
A native of Pittsburgh, Dileo began his career in the music industry working as a promoter for CBS subsidiary Epic Records. He signed so many stars that he was credited with catapulting the small company to the No. 2 label in the country. Jackson was at CBS Records at the time and together they worked on the phenomenally successful “Thriller” album.
Jackson wrote that Dileo’s “brilliant understanding of the recording industry proved invaluable” and described how Dileo decided to release “Beat It” as a single while “Billie Jean” was still the No. 1 song in the country.
“CBS screamed `You’re crazy. This will kill Billie Jean,’” Jackson recalled. “But Frank told them not to worry, that both songs would be No. 1 and both would be in the Top 10 at the same time. They were.”
And he managed two of Jackson’s concert tours _ the Victory Tour with other members of the Jackson family and the Bad World Tour, Jackson’s first solo excursion which became the largest grossing concert tour of all time.
Dileo went on to manage the careers of other musicians, including Taylor Dayne, Jodeci, Laura Branigan and Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora. He also worked with Prince on several projects.
He founded Dileo Entertainment Group in Nashville, Tenn., a company focused on launching the careers of young artists.
In 2005, when Jackson stood trial on child molestation charges, Dileo returned to his side. He later described their emotional reunion. After Jackson’s acquittal, they remained in touch and in the summer of 2009, as Jackson prepared to launch his This is It tour, the singer asked Dileo to manage him again. They were working together when Jackson died on June 25, 2009.
John Branca, co-executor of the Jackson estate, said he had the privilege of knowing Dileo for more than two decades.
“He was not only one of the great veterans of the music business, he was a beloved friend to me and all who were lucky enough to have had him in their lives. He was one of a kind,” Branca said, and “we will miss him.”