Lewis Largent, MTV Host, Dies After 'Long Illness'

Lewis Largent, a familiar face to millions of MTV viewers during the 1990s, has died. He was 58. Largent died on Feb. 20 after a "long illness," his family told Variety on March 10. He hosted MTV's Sunday night series 120 Minutes.

Largent was a native of Southern California. His life changed after a chance meeting with the general manager at KROQ, the Los Angeles alternative-radio station, at a golf country club. The executive was impressed with his music knowledge and offered him an internship. He was eventually hired full-time in 1985 and became a music director in 1989.

Three years later, Largent left KROQ and joined MTV as vice president of music programming. He hosted the influential show 120 Minutes, a Sunday night staple that helped expand the reach of alternative music across the country. Bjork, Trent Reznor, Radiohead, PJ Harvey, and David Bowie were just a few of the artists who visited 120 Minutes during Largent's tenure.

Although Largent's tenure on 120 Minutes ended in 1995, he stayed at MTV until 1999. Island Def Jam Records hired him as senior vice president of A&R, and he used his knack for finding talent. He signed Sum 41 and Andrew W.K. and worked with several artists before leaving Island Def Jam in 2004. Largent left the music business behind to get a degree in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College. He earned his MFA in 2015. Largent is survived by his wife, Atlantic Music Group chairman/CEO Julie Greenwald, and their two children.

Largent's colleagues mourned his death on social media. "I am completely gutted. I loved Lewis very much. I am at a loss for words," Matt Pinfield, who followed Largent as 120 Minutes' host, tweeted. "A legend, He led with his critical musical taste and if he liked something you knew it was about to be a huge success," Mark Ghuneim, another former MTV host, wrote. "Thinking of him + everyone his life touched."

"My condolences to you Matt and Julie Greenwald over at Atlantic Records. The legacy Lewis left behind is introducing many new artists, especially bands on 120 Minutes in the early 1990s right before you did," one fan wrote to Pinfield. "So sad. I used to stay up late in high school to watch 120 minutes with Lewis. He had a huge impact on alt music," another commented.