George Avakian is an American record producer and executive known particularly for his work with Columbia Records, and his production of albums by Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and other notable jazz musicians.
Avakian was born in Armavir, Russia, to Armenian parents. His younger brother was the photographer and filmmaker Aram Avakian. The elder Avakian attended Yale University, and became an avid collector and fan of jazz music. While still at Yale he was responsible for the first reissues Columbia put out around 1940, discovering some unissued Louis Armstrong masters from his Hot Five and Hot Seven period in the process. He later produced some of Armstrong's most important albums of the traditional jazz revival era, including Louis Armstrong Plays W. C. Handy. His annotations were noted for the education they provided to their listeners. To expand on this concept, in 1946, Avakian started a course in jazz history at Columbia University.
His long tenure at Columbia Records culminated in his becoming responsible for the Popular Music and International divisions. During that time, Avakian introduced the LP record format created by Columbia engineers and produced the industry's first 100 long-playing discs of popular music and jazz. He also produced the first live LPâ€”Benny Goodmanâ€™s 1938 Carnegie Hall concert.