The music industry is mourning the death of well-respected music executive Chris Lighty, 44, who shot himself to death following an argument with his ex-wife, Veronica, Thursday morning.
Social networking websites Twitter.com and Facebook are awash with tributes and accolades from friends who were moved to tears by the untimely death of a man who brokered some of the biggest deals in music history.
According to published reports, police responded to Lighty’s posh 5-level red brick townhouse in the upscale South Riverdale area of the Bronx about 11:30 a.m. They found Lighty in his backyard lying face up with a 9mm handgun near his body.
Lighty was one of the most influential men in the music industry. From his humble beginnings carrying crates full of records for the DJ Red Alert, he went on to manage the careers of some of the music industry’s biggest and brightest stars including Mariah Carey, LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, Sean Combs, 50 Cent, A Tribe Called Quest, and Diggy Simmons.
But despite his head-spinning success, Lighty was deeply troubled. Veronica, his trophy wife of 7 years, filed for divorce last year after Lighty reportedly sold his company, Violator Management, to Larry Mestel’s Primary Wave Talent Management to form a new company called Primary Violator Management. Friends say Lighty was not the same guy after his wife left him. Lighty’s longtime business partner Mona Scott-Young had already left Violator Management to pursue her dream of becoming the female Bravo Andy Cohen.
Lighty quickly found himself mired in debt. According to The Washington Post, City National Bank sued Lighty in April, saying he owed $53,584 on an overdrawn account that he refused to pay.
Then the IRS came calling with a $5 million tax bill.
“The blueprint to happiness doesn’t start with Money or Success,” tweeted Lighty, who was forced to sell off 2 Chelsea area condos for $5.6 million to settle his tax bill.
Lighty downsized to a five level, red brick Georgian Townhouse in Riverdale that he purchased for $1,145,000 in March. The “immaculate” end unit townhouse boasted 7 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, 13-foot ceilings in the living room, and a landscaped rear garden.
It was there in his tranquil garden that his demons finally caught up to the man his friends affectionately referred to as “Baby Chris”.
In a tribute to Lighty for NPR, former Billboard and Vibe editor Danyel Smith writes: “Yes, Chris Lighty made history. He helped make hip-hop. He was a success story. He was a sweet and brilliant man. But there will be no more knowing of him — the complexities, the simple s—, nothing. The man in the liner notes, the kid backstage, the dude counting the show money, the father with his children. It’s beyond tragic. Everybody’s Baby Chris is gone.”