Friday, November 8, 2013

Colin Richardson Interview Part 4 - Bron Booking Agent

6/18/2009 Visit Colin Richardson's blog - here

Colin Richardson Interview Pt 4 - Booking Agencies
Continuing from part Three we look at Colin Richardson's development as a Booking Agent in the music business..

At some point you became a Booker with The London City Agency, your first break into the music
business. How did that come about?

In 1964 I was working as an Office Services Manager for a computer company, north of Oxford Street. This was about the same time I got the Marquee 'night manager' job on Monday and Wednesday evenings, as well as Sundays at the "Jazzhouse" playing the odd gig here and there. I was also, on occasions, booking bands into local colleges on a 'split commission' basis (this is where you get a booking for a band that you don't actually represent, but the band's agent will accept the booking and 'split' the 10% commision with you 50/50. Some agencies were quite happy to do this, even though I wasn't officially an agent.).

One such booking was for the Artwoods, a popular R&B group (with Jon Lord on Hammond organ!). Some time after this gig, I was phoned by their booking agent, Barry Dunning at the London City Agency, asking if their was any chance of them getting a 'return booking'. In the conversation that followed, I let it be known that I was interested in getting into the music business and he suggested that I go and have a chat with them, as one of their bookers, Steve O'Rourke (who was later to be part of Pink Floyd's management) was moving on. So, I went to meet with Barry and his partner, Johnny Jones. After
The Artwoods
asking a few questions, they seemed happy to offer me the job... and I was happy to accept. Oddly enough, I started off booking out the aforementioned Artwoods, plus a few other acts, but, more importantly, I also had to get bookings for some very well-known visiting blues artists, such as John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry and Jesse Fuller. It was certainly 'in at the deep end', but it was definitely a great opportunity to learn the ropes. After about 18 months though, I was kind of 'head-hunted' by John Gunnell of the Rik Gunnell Agency.

So, your next move was to the Gunnell Agency...

This would have been around September 1966. I had got to know John Gunnell, the younger of the 2 brothers, through booking some of the LCA bands into the Flamingo and Ram Jam clubs, both of which were run by the Gunnells. Their agency had an impressive roster of 'name' bands like Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band, Zoot Money, John Mayall, Long John Baldry etc., so they were a much more powerful set up. When John asked if I would like to join them, I didn't really hesitate..though I did have some pangs of guilt at leaving LCA, who had given me my first break, but I realised that it would be a big step up for me to handle bands of that stature. They were much easier to sell, since they were such reliable 'draws' and it was just a question of which gigs to take and which to pass on. Like LCA, the Gunnells occasionally imported artists from the States. I remember booking out blues guitarists Freddie King and Albert King, as well as soul singers like Mary Wells and Joe Tex (who cancelled at the last minute, causing real problems which resulted in the Gunnells calling a halt to such tours).

We also had something to do with the Stax tour in '67, with Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Arthur Conley and Wilson Pickett. I think it might have been as promoters of the Finsbury Park Astoria concert, I can't remember exactly. It was very exciting working with such major league artists, but in December 1967, I was offered the job of General Manager at Bron Artistes Management, who looked after Gene Pitney, Manfred Mann and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. I like the idea of working with such a diverse range of artists, plus it was another step up for me.

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