John Hall Jr., the former Midwest Regional Director of Promotions for Arista Records, died recently at Dwight D. Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California, near Palm Springs. He was 70.
The cause of death was pneumonia and complications from cancer treatments, according to his wife, Lynda Smith Hall.
His Arista clients included Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Holliday, Phyllis Hyman, TLC, OutKast, CeeLo Green, Jermaine Jackson and others.
Warwick issued a press statement: “To all my friends in the music industry and beyond. You know how much I loved John. I wrap my arms around his wife, Lynda, and the entire Hall family during this time of bereavement.”
He was a longtime resident of Oak Park, Illinois. Born in Greenville, Mississippi, he moved to Chicago at age 14.
He got his first job in the music industry at Gardner’s One-Stop record shop on Chicago’s South Side when he was just 14. He proved to be a bright and industrious young man destined for success.
Fellow music executive Carter Russell met Hall at Gardner’s. “He was a fun person to be around,” Russell says. “You would never have to worry about a conversation because he loved to talk even when he was 14. He would tell you what happened, what is happening and what’s going to happen,” he laughs. “I miss him already.”
Along the way, Hall became a popular teen DJ at the legendary High Chaparral nightclub, even though he was too young to enter the club.
He graduated from South Shore High School and earned his bachelor’s degree in communications at Columbia College Chicago in 1974.
He was later an employee at MS Distributing for two years. Hall then got the call to join Clive Davis’ Arista Records in 1978. Hall left the label in 2001 after 23 years of exemplary service.
Hall was cancer-free for nine years but never discussed his health. His wife recalls: “He would always ask people how they were doing. He was always fine, never said a word about how he may have been truly feeling. He felt people didn’t want to be worried about what’s going on with him.”
He never shared his ailments with other cancer patients. “He would always give them a positive side,” says Lynda. “He was always encouraging, he would hide his ailments.” He enjoyed mentoring youth and always had an inspiring word for everyone. He cared deeply about others and even talked to the nurses about their 401K investments.
John had a “steadfast faith in God,” says Lynda. His favorite person in the Bible was Job. “He went through so much and lost everything but gained it all back. He felt a kinship with Job.”
Everyday he played gospel music. His favorites were David Crowder’s “Good God Almighty” and Charles G. Hayes’ “Jesus Will Work It Out.
John and Lynda were married for 39 years. They said “I do” in front of their families and friends at Blackwell Memorial AME Zion Church with the Rev. George Riddick officiating. Lynda says her husband lived a full and complete life. “He worked with world-class recording artists. He wanted to drive on Route 66. He got a chance to do that at least five times.”
She continues, “He enjoyed life and always put everyone before him. He treated everyone fairly, even when they did not treat him fairly.
He believed in the Golden Rule.” He is predeceased by his parents, Johnnie Hall, Sr., and Janie Hall. He is survived by his wife, Lynda Smith Hall; his sister, Lizzie Hall; and a host of nieces, nephews and friends.
A memorial service will be held via Zoom on January 15 at 7 p.m. CST. Zoom arrangements are being planned by his niece, Dr. Tara Nkrumah, Ph.D.