Rock Managers

An abbreviated look at some of the top managers in music.

 

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Brian Epstein – Beatles

With no experience, he took the rough young Beatles and made them bigger than Elvis. That was considered impossible before he did it. No one from England ever made it in America…he would change all of that. Some people complained that he cleaned the Beatles up too much but that is the only way they would have been accepted in America.

They opened the doors for all the other British acts to follow. Brian cared about the Beatles and it wasn’t all about the money. He made a few bad deals but he was in uncharted territory. I would take Brian over anyone in this list.

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Peter Grant –  Led Zeppelin

Peter was big, impressive, and intimidating. He was a former wrestler who would resort to violence if necessary. He changed the business of touring to favor the artist. He demanded 90% of the gate money which that was unheard of at the time.

He fiercely protected their music. Going to record stores and demanding if any bootleg albums or merchandise was there to hand it over. At concerts, he would douse water over recording equipment of bootleggers. Peter was loyal to Led Zeppelin and that cannot be denied.

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Albert Grossman – Bob Dylan – The Band – Janis Joplin

He was not liked in the folk community. He was all about commercial success for his artists and the folk fans called him Breadhead…Only in it for the money.  Albert protected Bob and helped him to succeed. After Bob, he went on to manage the Band and Janis Joplin.

He built a mini-empire in Bearsville, NY. A recording studio, restaurants, and houses.

This is what Bob Dylan said about his first meeting with Grossman.

 “He looked like Sydney Greenstreet from the film The Maltese Falcon, had an enormous presence, always dressed in a conventional suit and tie, and he sat at his corner table. Usually when he talked, his voice was loud like the booming of war drums. He didn’t talk so much as growl.”

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Colonel Tom Parker – Elvis

The Colonel previously worked at carnivals and described Elvis as his “attraction.” He took an incredible 50% of Elvis’s earnings during his career and after his death. Elvis never toured internationally and some say it was because Parker was an illegal immigrant in the U.S. from the Netherlands, lacked a passport and never became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

No one can say that the Colonel didn’t make Elvis money but he controlled everything in Elvis’s life. He planned the Army induction, movies, and then the comeback in Las Vegas. In the end, he kept an unhealthy Elvis working while he accumulated huge gambling debts.

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Kit Lambert – The Who

A flamboyant man with partner Chris Stamp managed the Who until the early seventies. Kit help shape their sound and image. Pete Townshend relied on him as an idea person. He helped Pete form the Tommy album as a rock opera and produced it as well.

Townshend has always maintained how important Kit was in his early songwriting. Lambert and Stamp were not great managers but they worked outside the box which is what the Who needed at the time.

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Allen Klein – The Stones and Beatles

Allen was a master at negotiating contracts. He had the two biggest bands in the world and wanted the Who in the 70s…but Pete Townshend knew his reputation and dodged his control. He negotiated the Stones and Beatles huge record deals but also ended up owning the rights to the Stones early catalog.

Later with the Beatles John, George and Ringo wanted Klein as their manager but Paul wanted his father in law Lee Eastman. The rest thought he would be biased on toward Paul. The other Beatles signed with Klein but Paul wisely did not sign.

John, George, and Ringo eventually soured on Allen Klein after many questionable actions by Klein. It took years to untangle the mess he made.

Quote from George on Allen Klein.

 “Because we were all from Liverpool, we favored people who were street people,” he said. “Lee Eastman was more like a class-conscious type of person. As John was going with Klein, it was much easier if we went with him too.” But he also noted that “years later, we formed a different opinion.”

 

 

 

 

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

26 thoughts on “Rock Managers”

  1. Who was the bigger swine- Col. Parker or Allen Klein?… As you stated Brian may have made mistakes but he wasn’t a swindler. I think he would have given his last dime to the boys. It is amazing in an industry full of riff-raft The Beatles for the most part were surrounded by quality people. Until they got involved with Klein..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, now that is a good poll question… Personally because of my feelings toward the Beatles…I would say Klein…but at least they wised up…Elvis never did.
      The Brian Jones book mentioned that fact…how The Stones were surrounded by gangsters and crooks but The Beatles, on the other hand, didn’t let people like that in their circle…it was mostly older friends. Everyone seemed to care about them who was around them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am still waiting for the Jones book to arrive at the library- but Harpo Speaks! is keeping me occupied. About 200 pages in. Love it… Yes they all wised up to Klein- Elvis just kept being taken for a ride. There is a book out about Klein- a few years old now- I haven’t read it- have you?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No, I have read it but it’s on my list on audible. I want to see how he managed to basically rob the Stones catalog… Pete Townshend mentioned him in his book and he smartly made an effort to get away from him.

        I’m glad you are liking Harpo Speaks! It’s hard not to like the book or him…

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      3. That is a deal. He packed a lot of living in his life. I love the story about him playing piano at the saloon with the criminal female owner…

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, he has a lot of fun with Woollcott. There is a movie and play called “The Man Who Came To Dinner” based off of Aleck…and a character in the play named… “Banjo”…good movie.

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      5. That is one of my wife’s favorite movies we watch it every christmas season. it was on TMC the other night and they mentioned it being based on Aleck- I thought it was odd timing because I had just seen pictures of him in the book days earlier- hadn’t got to that point in the book yet…

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      6. That is a good movie… I started to read about George Kaufman and the roundtable after reading the book…that is what books do to me. I read a great book about Clara Bow…after that I was into Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin etc…same with the Beatles books…got me into the Who and everyone else.

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      7. Somewhere I saw a Groucho comment- his idea of a perfect woman was one who looked like Marilyn Monroe and talked like George Kaufman. LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. lol…I love his quotes… yes Groucho married women who looked great but wasn’t intellectual at all. I was going to say didn’t have a brain…but that would have been mean….he was so quick-witted but all of them were.

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  2. I forgot to mention – Daniel Johnston wanted me to be his manager back in the day- I turned it down. I wouldn’t have known the first thing about being a manager. It would have been an interesting -but rocky road to have taken. Once in a while I think about that- what if–

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You could have been the Pittsburgh Brian Epstein… You never know. He trusts you and knew you had his back… You are right though. You have to take a big chance in life because you cannot do that part-time. Musicians and managers take a leap of faith doing it.
      That is really cool that he asked you.

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  3. Have you read ‘Bumping into Geniuses’? It validated my cynical opinion that what sets some of the most ‘iconic’ groups and singers apart from the mere mortal music stars, is hype. But each of the ones you listed did have a power that made their clients better. Klein and Grant really give me the creeps, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No I haven’t but I looked it up and is that the same Danny Goldberg that has something to do with Led Zeppelin? I need to read that.
      Klein was really bad…Grant wasn’t nice to anyone but Led Zeppelin.

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      1. I will have to check it out…thank you. I love reading and also audible because I have a 72 mile round trip to work every day and I listen to books as I travel.

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      2. Oh yes… I go through 2 audibles a month usually. It’s worth it though. Live in a small town with good schools and resembles Mayberry lol…everyone drives to Nashville to work.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Elvis got criticized for it at the time but it wasn’t him. All of his peers did from Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and to the Beatles… The Colonel supposedly had a shady past and would not consent for him to tour outside of the US.

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