Charlie Walk is out as president of Republic Group, two months after being placed on leave by the label pending an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct brought by former colleague Tristan Coopersmith in an open letter published Jan. 29, which she said occurred during their time at Columbia Records. In February, four more women came forward in an article published by Rolling Stone which detailed further claims from women during Walk’s time at Columbia, Epic and Republic, the latter of which he joined in 2013. Walk has denied all claims.
In a short statement obtained by Billboard, a rep for Republic said, “Republic Records and Charlie Walk have mutually agreed to part ways.” Walk’s exit was first reported by Variety.
In the Rolling Stone story, Walk released a statement that read, “I did not do these things and this is not who I am. Throughout my career I have always sought to conduct myself professionally and appropriately. It is upsetting to be presented with false claims from long ago that I know to be untrue and were never reported. I support the national discussion taking place right now because I believe fully in the importance in treating everyone with respect and dignity at all times.”
Walk spent 15 years in the promotions department at Columbia Records from 1990 until 2005, and three as president of Epic Records, from 2005-2008. Hours after Coopersmith’s initial letter was published Jan. 29, Universal Music Group released a statement saying, “While it appears this blog post relates to the period prior to Mr. Walk’s appointment to his position at Republic Records, we take the allegations very seriously and intend to conduct a full and complete review of this matter.”
Two days later, on Jan. 31, Republic placed Walk on administrative leave and announced the company had retained outside legal counsel to investigate the incidents. The same day, Walk released a statement saying he would not attend the season finale of The Four, the new talent-search television show on which he has served as a judge alongside DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor and Sean “Diddy” Combs. He said in a statement, “I do not want my presence to be a distraction.” He subsequently retained Harvey Weinstein attorney Patty Glaser to fight the allegations.
“Needless to say this is very upsetting,” Walk continued in his statement announcing his decision regarding The Four. “Although I continue to support the ‘Me Too’ movement, there has been an extreme rush to judgment against me in this particular case which is unfair and inconsistent with anything that even actually happened. I welcome any investigation so that in short order these unfounded and hurtful accusations can be put to rest.”
Walk’s career in the music business began in 1987 while he was a student at Boston University’s School of Management, when he became a college marketing rep for then-CBS Records, which would subsequently become Sony Music Entertainment. In 1990, after graduating, he joined Columbia Records’ promotions department, eventually rising to head of the department by 2000 before being named executive vp creative marketing and promotion in June 2004. From December 2005 until December 2008, Walk held the role of president of Epic Records, before leaving to run his own marketing/advertising firm JWALK.
He returned to the record business in January 2013, as executive vp of Republic Records in charge of marketing, promotions and publicity efforts; in February 2016 he was named president of Republic Group, tacking on promotions responsibilities for Island Records, Cash Money Records and pop promotions for Big Machine Label Group.