Lewis Largent, who helped bring alternative rock to the American mainstream with his work at Los Angeles’ KROQ-FM and at MTV, died on Feb. 20. He was 58.
His death, which came after a long illness and which was first reported by Variety, was confirmed by a source close to Largent’s family, who didn’t specify an exact cause or say where Largent died.
Largent, who grew up in Southern California, began his music career in the mid-1980s with an internship at KROQ, the taste-making modern-rock station that was crucial to breaking acts including Jane’s Addiction, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bad Religion. By 1989 he’d become KROQ’s music director, but he left the station just a few years later to go to MTV, where in 1992 he took over as host of the video channel’s Sunday-night alternative-music showcase, “120 Minutes.” Among the many era-defining acts he interviewed on the show were PJ Harvey, Pavement, Björk and the Goo Goo Dolls.
In 1995, Largent handed off hosting duties to Matt Pinfield, who wrote Friday on Twitter that he was “completely gutted” by news of Largent’s death. Largent stayed at MTV as director of music programming and was later promoted to vice president of music and artist development at the influential cable network. He left MTV in 1999 to take a senior A&R position at Island Def Jam Records, where he worked with Sum 41 and former House of Pain rapper Everlast, among other acts. He resigned from the label in 2004.
According to Variety, Largent — whose survivors include his wife, Atlantic Music Group Chairman and Chief Executive Julie Greenwald, and their two children — received degrees in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College following his career in the music industry.