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The List: Most famous band managers
Jan. 24 marks the 50th anniversary of when the Beatles signed a contract with manager Brian Epstein, entitling Epstein to a 25 percent cut of their gross income. The original four-page contract was sold at auction in 2008 for $426,000. In remembering Epstein, the List looks at the most notable, and sometimes controversial, rock ‘n’ roll band managers of all time.
- 15. Frank Weber (Billy Joel) —Billy Joel sang about “Honesty” and a “Matter of Trust” but found little in his relationship with his manager and former brother-in-law, Frank Weber — brother of Mr. Joel’s first wife, Elizabeth. In 1989. Mr. Joel filed a $90 million lawsuit against Mr. Weber for allegedly making unwise and improper investments and duping the singer out of $30 million. The suit was settled in 1993.
- 14. Malcolm McLaren (Sex Pistols) — Art school dropout Malcolm McLaren signed the Sex Pistols with EMI, and their first single, “Anarchy in the UK,” came out in 1976. The band broke up after only one studio album, 1977’s “Never Mind the Bollocks,” but by then, McLaren and the band had become seminal figures of the punk-rock era. The band’s bassist, Sid Vicious, died of a heroin overdose in 1979 after he was accused of killing his girlfriend. McLaren died at 64 in Switzerland in 2010.
- 13. Jon Landau (Bruce Springsteen) —Mr. Landau was a music critic who after watching Bruce Springsteen perform at a gig in Cambridge, Mass., famously quipped in an article in the Real Paper, “I saw rock and roll’s future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” Mr. Springsteen loved the review and hired Mr. Landau as his manager.
- 12. Murry Wilson (Beach Boys) —Murry Wilson, the father of Beach Boys members Brian, Dennis and Carl and uncle of Carl Love, created and managed the band. He signed them with Capitol Records in 1962, and that year, “Surfin’ Safari,” reached No. 14 on the charts. The abusive and manipulative Murry sold off the band’s entire publishing catalog against the band’s wishes in 1969 for $700,000. It is estimated to be worth $80 million. Murry Wilson died in 1973 at the age of 55.
- 11. Danny Fields/Linda Stein (Ramones) —Danny Fields discovered the Ramones in 1975 and became co-manager of the band with Linda Stein. Stein not only managed music bands but also was a Realtor to the rich and famous. She was bludgeoned to death in 2007 in her apartment in Manhattan. Stein’s personal assistant Natavia Lowery was sentenced to the maximum 25 years to life for the murder.
- 10. Andy Taylor/Rod Smallwood (Iron Maiden, Pet Shop Boys and Elaine Paige) — Andy Taylor and Rod Smallwood met as students at Cambridge University and in 1976 founded Sanctuary Records. In 1979, they signed Iron Maiden, and over the next two decades, they built the company into Britain’s biggest independent record group. The Iron Maiden song “Sheriff of Huddersfield” is written about Mr. Smallwood. It likens him to the miserly Sheriff of Nottingham.
- 9. Doc McGhee (Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Kiss and Skid Row) — Mr. McGhee managed Bon Jovi from 1983 to 1991 before being fired by band leader Jon Bon Jovi. In 1990, he was given a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to importing marijuana in North Carolina.
- 8. Albert Grossman (Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Joan Baez) — Grossman was famous for managing the career of Bob Dylan between 1962 and 1970. The cover of Mr. Dylan’s album “Bringing It All Back Home” was photographed at Grossman’s home in Woodstock, N.Y. The woman in the cover photo with Mr. Dylan was Grossman’s wife, Sally. Grossman also managed the careers of Peter, Paul and Mary; Richie Havens; and Gordon Lightfoot. When he found out that Janis Joplin was injecting drugs, he took out a life insurance policy guaranteeing him $200,000 in the event she died in an accident. Grossman died while flying on the Concorde to London in 1986. He was 59.
- 7. Peter Grant (The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin and Bad Company) — Peter Grant is often credited for being among the first to make sure rock performers got a major cut of concert earnings. He insisted that acts get 90 percent of the gate cut. A former sheet-metal worker, wrestler and bouncer, Grant began working in the British music scene in the late 1950s. He is most famous for forming the band Led Zeppelin, which became the definitive rock band of the 1970s. He died in 1995 at the age of 60.
- 6. Sharon Osbourne (Ozzy Osbourne) — After her father, Don Arden, fired Ozzy Osbourne from the British band Black Sabbath in 1979, Sharon Osbourne became her husband’s manger. She revived Ozzy’s career and created the Ozzfest summer touring festival, which grossed millions. She went on to star in MTV’s reality show “The Osbournes.”
- 5. Allen Klein (Rolling Stones and Beatles) — Allen Klein was one of the most powerful figures in the music business in the 1960s, managing the Rolling Stones and, after Brian Epstein’s death, the Beatles. The Rolling Stones fired him 1970. The Beatles hired Klein in 1969 over the objections of Paul McCartney, who preferred his father-in-law, Lee Eastman. The Beatles broke up the following year and later sued Klien. He died in 2009 at the age of 77.
- 4. Don Arden (Black Sabbath, ELO, Small Faces) — The British media dubbed him the “Al Capone of pop.” It is reported that he once dangled Bee Gees manager Robert Stigwood from the balcony of a building, threatening to drop him for trying to lure away the Small Faces. The acts he managed included Gene Vincent, Elkie Brooks, the Small Faces, the Move, ELO, Wizzard, Lynsey De Paul and Black Sabbath. He died in 2007 at the age of 81.
- 3. Robert Stigwood (Cream, Bee Gees) — The Australian music mogul, considered one of the richest musical figures in Britain, was the manager of Cream, the Bee Gees, Andy Gibb and numerous other acts. He was behind the theatrical productions of “Hair” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” and the film “Saturday Night Fever.” Mr. Stigwood was also a mentor to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
- 2. Col. Tom Parker (Elvis Presley) — The Dutch-born manager of Elvis Presley masterminded every aspect of Presley’s career, taking nearly 50 percent of the earnings by the end of the singer’s life. Parker became Presley’s manager on March 26, 1956, following his success in getting RCA Records to buy Presley’s release from Sun Records. He remained Presley’s manager without break until Presley’s death in 1977. Parker died in Las Vegas, Nevada at the age of 87.
- 1. Brian Epstein (Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers) — Brian Epstein was the Beatles’ manager from 1961 until his suicidal death in 1967 at the age of 32. He became the Beatles’ boss after catching the group perform at one of the Cavern Club’s lunchtime shows on Nov. 9, 1961. On Jan. 24, 1961, the Beatles signed what has been called the most important music contract of all time. Epstein didn’t sign the contract until Oct.1, 1962, when the band joined with EMI. He wanted the Fab Four to have the freedom to walk away if he could not deliver on his promise to get the band a record deal and a No. I hit.
Compiled By John Haydon
Sources: Birmingham Post, Press Association, Associated Press and Wikipedia
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