Lewis Largent, influential rock radio DJ and former host of MTV’s 120 Minutes, has died at 58. Endearingly, numerous friends and fans – including some rock artists and fellow MTV alumni – have since honored the beloved industry personality online.
Variety reports – via a family source – that Largent died on Feb. 20, 2023 “after a long illness.” To date, no further details have been given regarding the exact cause or location of his death.
Raised in Southern California, Largent got his first big break in the music industry in the mid-80s, when he befriended the general manager of Los Angeles alternative rock radio station KROQ. (During that time, Variety adds, Largent was “an enthusiastic golfer” who met the man while working at a country club.) Before long, Largent got an internship at the station that led to a permanent job in 1985. By 1989, he was named KROQ’s Music Director.
In 1992, he left KROQ to take a position as a Vice President of Music Programming at MTV, as well as the host of the network’s signature Sunday night show, 120 Minutes. Over the next three years, he became one of the network’s most well-known personalities, bringing revered artists such as David Bowie, Trent Reznor, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, Björk and Pavement to audiences across the nation.
Although he left 120 Minutes in 1995 – and was replaced by Matt Pinfield, The Los Angeles Times notes – he stayed at MTV until 1999 (where he was eventually promoted to Vice President of Music and Artist Development).
Afterward, he was named a Senior Vice President of A&R at Island Def Jam Records. During his time there, he signed several big acts (Sum 41 and Andrew W.K., for instance). In 2004, he resigned from IDJR; a few years later, Variety confirms, he earned his BA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College. In 2015, he went a step further by earning his MFA.
Largent is survived by his wife – Atlantic Music Group Chairwoman and CEO Julie Greenwald – and their two children.
Recently, many people within the industry have taken to social media to pay tribute to Largent.
Last Friday (March 10), for example, Matt Pinfield tweeted: “I am completely gutted. I loved Lewis very much. I am at a loss for words.” Similarly, music journalist and former MTV News correspondent John Norris wrote: “How tragic. Not gonna lie, I always wished that I was as cool as Lewis and he could not have been more chill and humble and kind. RIP friend. My thoughts are with Julie and his family and loved ones.”
Elsewhere, post-hardcore troupe Thursday reflected: “Lewis Largent helped bring us to Island records way back when and we thought the world of the guy. This is a sad one.”
You can see more tributes to Largent below, as well as view some videos from his time on MTV’s 120 Minutes.
Of course, Loudwire extends our condolences to Largent’s friends, family and fans.
Rockers + Fellow Journalists Pay Tribute to Former MTV VJ Lewis Largent
Lewis Largent Interviews Goo Goo Dolls on 120 Minutes in 1993
Lewis Largent – 120 Minutes Episode Preview from 1993
Lewis Largent Weekend Revolution MTV Commercial
Lewis Largent Gets His Nose Pierced at Lollapalooza 1993
11 Best MTV Shows That Were Actually About Music
That’s what it was created for, after all. Given MTV’s increased proliferation of such comedy and reality programs (among other genres) over the last 30 years, it can be easy to forget that, you know, MTV stands for Music Television.