....music of the '60s & '70s remembered.
My first music biz gig was working as a night-manager at the Marquee Club from autumn 1964 until spring of '65, under the supervision of Harold Pendleton and John Gee. I ran the Monday night session with Long John Baldry and the Steampacket, as well as Wednesdays, which featured the Humphrey Lyttelton Band.
Prior to this, in 1963, I had co-managed a modern jazz club, called the Jazzhouse, which operated in the 'banqueting lounge' of the Green Man pub, Blackheath every Sunday. For a while we also ventured into putting on R & B groups on Friday evenings...an idea suggested by Manfred Mann, who offered to play alternate weeks for a straight 50% of the door take, so confident was he of its success. He was proved right, with packed houses every week, but the subsequent crowd problems caused by the much larger audiences resulted in this club having to close after only a few months. The jazz club, however, was allowed to continue, as it had been running for well over a year without any problems as the audiences were relatively small and well-behaved.
The profits brought in by the short-lived R & B club helped to fund the formation of a rehearsal big-band, initially to give young jazz musicians an opportunity to read parts and to gain experience of ensemble playing of arrangements. This evolved into "The New Jazz Orchestra", which went on to play many concerts, some in collaboration with Colosseum...notably at the Lanchester Arts Festival in 1970.
After my spell at the Marquee Club, I joined the London City Agency as a booker in April 1965, where I worked with artists such as Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry, Jesse Fuller and The Artwoods, an well-known British R&B band, who's members included Jon Lord (later to enjoy stardom with Deep Purple) and drummer Keef Hartley.
After 18 months with London City Agency, I moved to the Rik Gunnell Agency, which specialised more in soul bands like Georgie Fame, Alan Price and Geno Washington, but also represented John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Fleetwood Mac, as well as the powerhouse Zoot Money's Big Roll Band. Occasionally, the agency would import American blues and soul acts to tour..I remember booking dates for Freddie King, Albert King and Mary Wells, as well as promoting the London appearance of the Stax tour package with Otis Redding, Sam and Dave etc. After working there about 15 months, In January 1968, I was offered the job of general manager at the Bron Organisation. Gerry Bron was, at that time, mainly a music publisher and record producer, but had ventured into artiste managment with Gene Pitney, Manfred Mann and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. A few months after joining, I was contacted by an old friend, drummer Jon Hiseman, who was looking for someone to manage the group he was putting together with Dick Heckstall-Smith and Tony Reeves, all of whom had recently left John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Calling the band Colosseum, it was one of the first successful British jazz/rock groups, recording 3 albums and touring extensively in the UK and Europe. Though they played one American tour, they didn't really make much impact and the band folded in November 1971.
During the three years I worked for Bron Artistes Management, they added Uriah Heep, Osibisa and Gentle Giant to the roster, as well as launching its own record label, Bronze. The office also had a tie-up with Reb Foster Management in L.A. who represented Steppenwolf and Three Dog Night.
When Colosseum broke up, I moved on again, initially to form a company with EMA-Telstar, Stockholm, managing their Swedish artistes in the UK and signing a number of British artistes. When this was firmly set-up and operating smoothly, I handed over the running of it to my colleague Norman Haines and joined Tony Stratton-Smith's record company, Charisma, where I became International Promotion manager for artists such as Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Lindisfarne, Clifford T.Ward and Monty Python's Flying Circus. Charisma also had a reciprocal management arrangement with Ed Goodgold in New York, who managed Sha Na Na, the 'doo-wop' revival band that played at Woodstock. I had already met and worked with them while at Bron's, when I had the 'honour' of welcoming them to their first European tour and became good friends with Elliot Cahn (a.k.a. Gino, on vocals & guitar) with whom I am still in touch today, albeit sporadically!
The 4 years I spent at Charisma were interesting and, most of the time, enjoyable. I had tremendous respect and liking for Tony Stratton Smith ('Strat') and for his attitude to music (his maxim was "anything good of its kind"). He gave chances to many bands that other 'safer' labels wouldn't touch. He took risks, but somehow managed to keep things going and often succeeded where others had given up. He had an abiding interest in the world of horse-racing and co-owned a racehorse with the late Steve O'Rourke (Pink Floyd co-manager). When he announced in 1976, that he was appointing someone to take over part of his role at Charisma, I decided to leave for pastures new and joined Bruce May Management, who looked after Ralph McTell (Bruce May's younger brother), Bert Jansch, John Martyn, amongst others. Though my role was mainly International Promotion, I was free to introduce new artists, so I brought into the fold my old friend Neil Ardley, with whom I had worked some years earlier, when he had been musical director of the New Jazz Orchestra. By now, Neil was one of the foremost jazz composer/arrangers in Britain and had written an impressive suite of music based on Balinese gamelan scales, called "Kaleidoscope of Rainbows"...a kind of 'jazz Tubular Bells' according to one reviewer. Though this was a very satisfying period in many ways, I didn't really feel that I fitted in, so after a year I left.
In Spring of 1978, I accepted a 3 month consultancy contract with RCA Records, to cover the European tours of David Bowie and Jefferson Starship, after which I switched 'hats' and became a journalist for several German language music magazines, interviewing many well-known international artists like Harry Nilsson, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter, Kate Bush, Pete Seeger, Jose Feliciano and Spencer Davis, to name but a few.
Toward the end of 1980, I finally put the music business behind me, moved out of London and for the next 20 years ran a successful antiques and collectibles business, specialising in vintage postcards, rock/pop memorabilia, pictures/prints and books etc.
Looking back, I would say that one of the high points of my career was being appointed the booking consultant to the innovative, mixed media Lanchester Arts Festival in Coventry for 1970 and 1971. Working with the student organiser - Ted Little, I was responsible for such memorable occasions as the first live-on-stage performance of Monty Python's Flying Circus at the Belgrade Theatre and the premier performance of Colosseum with the New Jazz Orchestra and the first UK appearance of Jack Bruce & Friends, with Larry Coryell, Mike Mandel and Mitch Mitchell.
In 2009 and 2010 I edited the biography of drummer and bandleader Jon Hiseman, Called "Playing the Band", which was researched and written by Martyn Hanson and was published in October (2010) through Temple Music. A re-edited Kindle version was published in November 2012 and both are now available from Amazon.
Music, open to all genres, but with a particular interest in and love of classical modern jazz from the mid 40s to the 60s. Also enjoy reading, TV, films, internet etc.