5. MANAGE THE WIFE
When artists and managers pool their dreams, and join forces to pursue their career goals in a partnership, they are consummating the first marriage of showbiz. The bond that forms is deep and powerful; it often lasts a life time. That is the rare exception. Most showbiz marriages end in divorce and that includes the traditional kind. Its hard enough to keep two people together; when it comes to bands, with multiple partners, the problem is exponentially increased by the number of players involved. Sooner or later each band member will be involved in a short, or long term relationship. This significant other automatically becomes part of the management force. Let’s face it, the wife is the first partner in any marriage, and the marriage between the artist and the manager will always take second seat to the real life wife. It is incumbent upon the manager to get the wife on his team. He has to manage her and make sure that her opinion, her goals and her desires are addressed, considered and implemented into the systems and protocols. She must feel that the manager respects her role and considers her interest in the business scenario. The wife can be a manger's greatest ally, or she can be his worst enemy. If she’s sleeping with the boy, and controlling his private life, she is in the power position. If she's telling him, “That guy’s not the right manager for you,” there’s nothing you can do to keep that cancer from rolling around in the client’s head. At the slightest provocation, and nothing works perfectly well all the time, she can find fault with the manager's performance. She can induce that particular cancer to explode and cause the demise of your artist/manager relationship. This principal also applies to the girl friend, today's infatuation can easily become tomorrow's bride. Wise managers always manage the wife.
LADIES & HENCHMEN
Throughout my more than fifty year career in the entertainment industry, I have been privileged to know a lot of wonderful women. I was always quick to recognize their value and include them in the appropriate processes. In most cases, at least on the surface, I was confident that my personal relationships, with the wives and girlfriends of clients, helped facilitate the diurnal activities. I included them in the social processes and, when appropriate, in the business.
Often the wife was the only sane person in the room, sometimes she represented a destructive force. A manager has to be conscious of the role the spouse is playing in each scenario. Her natural nesting instincts, and protective attitude toward her husband's best interests, gives her significant power over the home and business. When the girl is first introduced to the management and band, she is at her most vulnerable. As her relationship with the star blossoms, she is eager to transcend her "groupie" status and gain more respect. This is the first connection point for managers, and it is wise to consider the possibilities and make her feel welcome.
A warm and inviting attitude, expressed by management is imperative at this juncture. She may be gone tomorrow, in which case no charm is wasted, or, she may be in for the duration. If a manager is cold and exclusive at the beginning, she may seek revenge when her power increases. Some vision is required at this stage, so that the manager does not become a victim of her wrath.
In the early sixties, as a young television agent at the William Morris Agency, I discovered my first client. The Beatles were breaking wide open and the British invasion had begun. Unique to that situation was a duo named Chad & Jeremy. Unlike most of the English bands that participated in the birth of the postmodern record business, C&J never had a hit record in Great Britain.
Promoted in America as the originators of "The Oxford Sound," Chad & Jeremy landed a guest shot on The Hollywood Palace, one of the top variety television shows of the day. I was on site servicing a WMA client, movie star Betty Hutton, who was a guest on the show. Chad & Jeremy's first single, "Yesterday's Gone" came over the house sound system, and I was immediately flushed with goose bumps. I instinctively recognized that this song was something special and sought out the duo. It took six months of pitching, but I eventually talked them into emigrating to America.
Most of the British Invasion artists toured the U.S. under very strict work visas that required the entire itinerary be negotiated in advance. Once set, an act could cancel dates, but was not allowed to make additions to their scheduled events. This was not problem when it came to personal appearances, they were always booked months in advance. But, television dates were booked only two to three weeks in advance, and most British Invasion acts never appeared on U.S. television.
I had instructed Chad & Jeremy to come to the U.S. as permanent residents, and their "green cards" allowed them to accept any offers of employment they could get. This unique availability provoked dozens of TV appearances that might have gone to other British artists, and was a key factor in their success. They got all the television shows that might have gone to The Beatles or other English artists. Many hits followed their first number one record, "Yesterday's Gone."
One of the most significant contributors to Chad & Jeremy's stability was Chad Stuart's wife Jill, a beautiful and intelligent woman who helped keep Chad's feet on the ground as their career exploded. Jill and I had a warm relationship and she often provided key pieces of "inside" information that helped keep the machine running smoothly. William Morris and I were the source of the income and Jill recognized that being part of the "glue" factor was in her personal best interest. More than fifty years later, we are still friends and every now and then connect on facebook.
I befriended several other rock & roll ladies over the years. Susan Nash, wife of legendary musician, Graham Nash, was a professional actress who understood the complexities of his career and has always been a positive force in his life. Their marriage is still strong after more than thirty years. Ringo Starr's wife, actress Barbara Bach, has provided an elegant and intelligent stability to his amazing world. They are constant companions and one is rarely seen without the other, usually holding hands. My second signing to WMA was Sonny & Cher. In this case the wife was also the client. I ran into Cher in Malibu a few years back and she was still the same warm and wonderful person she had been as a girl.
Sometimes the manager's role in the artist's personal relationship takes a different path. In the mid seventies, I got a call from a superstar client who had a serious problem. His live-in girlfriend, of three years, had fallen from favor. He wanted her out of his house and life. But, she was a tough little cookie and not inclined to leave. This is why they call it "personal" management.
I was asked to deliver the bad news, which she did not take too well. I was later described in the ensuing palimony lawsuit as the client's "Henchman." Fortunately they reached an out of court settlement, and I was never called upon to testify against her. Which, of course, I would have done, out of loyalty to my client. Managers must always dance with the ladies and manage the wife.