Tony Martell, Music Executive and Founder of the T.J. Martell Foundation, Dies at 90

Tony Martell Dead

Senior music executive Tony Martell, who created the T.J. Martell Foundation to benefit leukemia, cancer, and AIDs research, died Sunday. He was 90.

The music industry vet died at his home in Madison, New Jersey.

Martell worked in the music business from the 1960s through the ’90s, holding roles including A&R director, record label vice president, and record label head. He worked extensively with CBS Records, which is now Sony Music Entertainment, and its subsidiaries, and helped direct the careers of such artists as the Isley Brothers and the O’Jays. Over the decades, Martell’s work spanned several genres, including rock, jazz, pop, soul, heavy metal, and blues.

The executive created the T.J. Martell Foundation in 1975 after his son, T.J., died of leukemia at the age of 19. It would go on to become the music industry’s biggest foundation for leukemia, cancer, and AIDs research, and has raised more than $270 million for its cause, according to the organization’s website.

Martell’s wife, Vicky Martell, who worked side-by-side with him in the T.J. Martell Foundation, died in February at the age of 88. The two were married for more than 65 years.

Memorial plans are set to be announced soon. Martell is survived by his daughter, Debbie Martell.

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Eye contact is good for you. But can you put your phone down for long enough?

extreme close up of brown eyes.

There are surprising benefits to locking gazes with another person, but it’s easy to forget that in the age of scrolls and swipes
extreme close up of brown eyes.
‘ Eye contact can be painful for some of us because it makes us profoundly vulnerable.’ Photograph: caia image / Alamy/Alamy

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Everyone from early mesmerists to contemporary self-help gurus have understood the power of looking someone deep in the eyes. Now, compelling new research is shedding light on the powerful positive effects of eye contact.
In an age of disconnectedness, locking gazes with another person has surprising benefits. The study finds it makes us much more likely to engage in selfless, altruistic behavior. We are also more likely to remember details of the interaction with the other person and to appraise that person more positively.

So why don’t we do it more often? Eye contact can be painful for some of us because it makes us profoundly vulnerable. After all, direct eye contact creates a moment when we are both very visible, but we also have minimal control over what the other sees. Being behind a screen is a much safer place. That’s why many of us largely avoid eye contact by gazing at our phones – especially in awkward or intimate moments.

We are used to hiding our feelings through careful curation of social media profiles and through various digital techniques of deferral and avoidance. When scrolling through our phones and feeds, we keep our minds busy and, perhaps superficially, keep in touch with others. But in those moments we are also largely devoid of self-awareness – and that, according to this latest research, is essential to making true contact with another person.

Posting photos online is not living. You are producing your own obituary
Rana Dasgupta
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Of course, the internet is part of our lives now. We will never be able to go back to communicating exclusively face-to-face. Indeed, it is important to squeeze the most out of our personal interactions whenever possible – and that includes catching up with old friends online. But, thinking digital communication is enough to keep a relationship going is a fantasy. Interacting with friends online grants us greater control over the way they perceive us, and that can be reassuring. But if we retreat behind Snapchat videos, Whatsapp chats and Facebook posts, we lessen the possibility of an encounter that could teach us about one another and ourselves.


The power of eye contact is intuitively obvious to most of us – any research describing the positive effects of eye contact is cleanly in line with common sense. We know we are more likely to pay attention to someone who seems to be paying attention to us. It is also no surprise that exchanging glances with someone makes us feel better about that person.

The essence of the research, however, lies in revealing how self-reference – the kind of self-awareness that arises from direct eye contact – helps us when connecting with others. In order to connect more deeply, we must be seen in ways we cannot control, and an uncomfortable jolt of self-awareness in those first moments of eye contact may scare us away.

Now that we know even more about the essential importance of a simple, unbroken gaze, we have even more reason to seek it out. Especially when meeting up with someone we care about, deep eye contact matters. And, if that feels uncomfortable that’s OK. We should stick with it and keep seeing that person, and seeing that person see us. Once we get accustomed to it again, we might find ourselves looking all kinds of people in the eye. Who knows what surprises await us when we do?

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