Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Top Managers of the Rock Era

Some managers of famous acts are almost as well known for their years of litigation, blunders and other disputes with their clients as they are for the positive things they did.  Those managers are not listed here.  We judged the managers of the Rock Era for not only their successes but their failures as well.  Hence, you don't see Colonel Tom Parker, Allen Klein, Andrew Loog Oldham and Murry Wilson listed.

1.  Brian Epstein

Epstein managed one group and one group only, but the job he did in transforming the Beatles from a beat group in Liverpool to legends known the world over is second to none.

2.  Irving Azoff

Many of the top managers were responsible for one act.  Azoff successfully managed the careers of many of the top acts of the last 60 years, including the Eagles, Journey, Christina Aguilera, Dan Fogelberg, Maroon 5, Steely Dan, Bon Jovi, Joe Walsh and Thirty Seconds to Mars.

In addition to being a top flight manager, Azoff has also co-produced movies, founded Giant Records and served as chairman and CEO of Ticketmaster.

In 2012, Billboard named Azoff as the most powerful person in the music industry.

3.  Robert Stigwood

Stigwood built an entertainment giant with RSO Records, which produced many of the great songs of the '70s.  He is most famous for his management of the Bee Gees in relaunching their career, but his client list also included Cream, Eric Clapton and Blind Faith.

Stigwood also became active in theatre production, bringing great plays such as Hair, Oh!  Calcutta!, Sweeney Todd and Evita to London.  He scored big screen successes with Saturday Night Fever, Grease and Evita.

4.  Peter Grant

Grant was the longtime manager of Led Zeppelin and one of the most respected managers in the business.  Grant also managed Bad Company, the Nashville Teens, the Jeff Beck Group and the Yardbirds, which grew into Led Zeppelin, and was the British tour manager for the Everly Brothers, the Animals, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Brian Hyland and Bo Diddley.

Grant is given credit for improving pay and conditions for musicians in their dealings with concert promoters.

Grant was also an actor from 1958 to 1963 and set up RAK Records, successful during the '70s. 

5.  Tommy Mottola

Mottola's most famous client of course was Mariah Carey, whom he married.  A good measure of his management ability is to look at how far Carey sank without him.  Tommy also managed Hall & Oates, Carly Simon and John Mellencamp.

Mottola was the head of Sony Music for 15 years and currently co-owns Casablanca Records.

6.  Albert Grossman

Grossman managed the careers of Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Peter, Paul & Mary, Janis Joplin, Todd Rundgren, Richie Havens and the Band.

7.  Martin Erlichman

Erlichman has negotiated the dozens of recording, theater, motion picture, television, merchandising and live concert contracts for Barbra Streisand for 50 years.  He also produced all of her television specials and one of her movies.  Erlichman has other film producer credits as well.

If a star of that magnitude respects and trusts your judgement for 50 years, that speaks volumes.
8.  Jon Landau

Landau started out as a music critic, and is better known in that field, but liked the music of Bruce Springsteen so much that he became his manager.  Landau has also managed Train, Shania Twain and Natalie Merchant.

9.  Paul McGuinness

One of the most respected acts of the Rock Era is U2, and a guy who should get a lot of credit is manager Paul McGuinness, who managed the group from 1978 to 2013.

10.  Ray Williams

Williams helped Elton John (then going by his real name of Reginald Dwight) launch his career.  Williams introduced Elton (who couldn't write lyrics) to Bernie Taupin, his songwriting partner for 48 years, and was Elton's manager for 16 years.

Williams also managed Stealer's Wheel, and is one of the top European film producers, whose credits include the great movie The Last Emperor.

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