Talent

I consider myself a great judge of talent, and have worked with an amazing spectrum of artists throughout my career.  In addition to all the unique, credible and interesting music artists I represented, I also have great pride in the executive talent I helped develop.

Of the many people assisting me over the years, I want to trumpet them all, starting with the late, great Bill Gross who started a comedy department at Triad, and went on to a successful career as a manager and entrepreneur.  Brian Greenbaum is a senior agent at CAA representing Paul Simon and Bob Dylan (and others); Chris King also went to CAA and is a senior agent in their Marketing Department.  David Levine, Keith Sarkisian, and John Branigan are now senior agents at William Morris EndeavorLori Goldklang is an SVP at Sony Pictures, Jim Haljun taking over the world with Google (and his new baby boy, congrats!!), and Carl Freed went from a successful career as a concert promoter to being an entrepreneur, as well.  Linda Martinez is in commercial real estate at Coldwell Banker.  My most recent pride comes from Zoe Sonquist King who is doing brand partnerships at Capitol Records.

In addition to my assistants and trainees, while I was at William Morris, I ran the Agent Training Program, and hired some great trainees in Eric Wilker, now an SVP at WB TV, Robbie Fraser, a great agent at William Morris Endeavor, and Jim Hughes, a successful event entrepreneur.  Melissa Miller Ormond is now President of MSG Entertainment and Maria Laing is VP Bus Dev at MrMaster Online.

Congrats to you all!

(This list includes those that I’m in touch with – if there are others I’ve left out, please forgive the omission!)

Tina Turner and waking up Eastern Canada

Tina Turner staged one of the most remarkable comebacks.  Her solo career began as more of a lounger or cabaret act, she subsequently transformed to a grittier rock act and she played shows at The Ritz in New York. Those shows led to her performing with Rod Stewart and then supporting The Rolling Stones.  “Let’s Stay Together” was followed by “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” and “Private Dancer,” and the Private Dancer album was a huge success.  Tina won four Grammy Awards including Record of the Year. 

Tina toured to massive crowds on the Private Dancer Tour.  I remember booking a string of dates in eastern Canada, including St. John’s, Newfoundland, Moncton and Fredricton, New Brunswick, and Halifax, Nova Scotia with the promoter Donald Tarlton (aka Donald K. Donald).  Donald had created a complete media frenzy in northeastern Canada with Tina’s shows there; I don’t think they had many big international rock tours going through those cities (or at least not in many, many years), so it was a HUGE deal that she was performing there. And Donald made it seem as if this was the biggest thing EVER to hit those cities.  I remember him having me interviewed on the radio as the shows were going on sale; it seemed as if it was bigger than The Beatles.  It was a media blitz unparalled for Eastern Canada.  Those shows all sold out, and Tina gave amazing performances.

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Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” album was a huge hit, and the accompanying video, was equally iconic.  As a young agent, I was involved in the booking of her “Physical” tour, and spent a lot of that year on the road covering ONJ shows.

There’s something really thrillingly excellent about being in the arena when the lights go down, and the fans start preparing (screaming) for the artist.  When the artist arrives on stage, it’s the greatest moment.  I learned a lot about representing big, popular clients through working with Olivia.

The coolest thing for me was that they were traveling by private jet.  That meant that they’d be based in a centrally located spot (e.g. Atlanta or Nashville or Dallas) for a week or so, and on the afternoons of shows, the touring party would hop in limousines to the airport.  The plane would take off when we got there, and we’d fly for about an hour to the next city, get limousines there, and then go to the backstage of the arena.  After the show, before the lights were even on in the arena, we’d be in the limos on our way to the airport, then flying back to the city we were based in.  Shecky, get the jet.  It was awesome.

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Joan Baez and Elvis Costello

Last week, I was at a benefit for pancreatic cancer research, organized by my former boss at Regency Artists, Triad Artists and Wiliam Morris Agency, Peter Grosslight.  It was a bit of a trip down memory lane, running in to a lot of concert promoters I’m particularly fond of like Jim Koplik, Melissa Miller Ormond, Larry Vallon, Rick Franks and Mark Campana, to name a few from my days as an agent.  I have really great memories of those days.  I also saw Larry Magid (fmr Electric Factory Concerts in Philadelphia) and Ron Delsener, New York concert impresario, both of whom tried unsuccessfully to get me fired because I was selling shows to their competitors.  No hard feelings, I did a lot of business with both after that.  Interestingly, Larry ended up buying the concert business of Stephen Starr, then his biggest competitor, now a successful restauranteur.  

 

One of the artists performing at the benefit was Joan Baez, an artist I worked with when I was an agent.  I remembered trying to convince her to sing some Elvis Costello songs.  At the time, Joan was looking to broaden her repertoire with some contemporary artists.  It seemed like a natural match to me that an artist like Joan, who was so closely aligned with Bob Dylan, master lyricist, would embrace another credible artist like Elvis Costello, another brilliant wordsmith. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Joan ever did sing any Elvis Costello songs; maybe because Linda Ronstadt had already done it, who knows.  I still think that Joan covering a song like “Pills and Soap,” or “Brilliant Mistake” would have been great.  It did get me thinking, who of today’s credible artists would be an interesting discovery for Joan Baez?

 

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George Michael, Rock in Rio 2, Brasil

Throwback Thursday:  In January 1991 George Michael played Rock in Rio 2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, and I flew down to cover the show.  There is something really exciting about seeing 700,000 people singing, applauding, and going crazy.  It is what an agent lives for, one of the validations of working with great, engaging artists.

This was shortly after his second solo album “Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1” was released (and before he sued Sony).  George was trying to reposition himself as a serious artist after his tremendous success with Wham! and his first solo album, Faith.  George wouldn’t appear in any of the videos from the album, he wouldn’t allow his picture on the album cover; it seemed that he wouldn’t do much to promote it.    It was a great album, nonetheless.

I loved Rio, very Latin (especially compared with Buenos Aires), very alive.  Sugar Loaf and Corcovado were impressive.  While I was there, I was told that it wasn’t really safe to wander around on my own (which I normally like to do); allegedly someone from Prince‘s crew was stabbed on the beach in front of the hotel.

Year End Lists

Top Ten Albums of the Year?  Doesn’t really fit how I listen to music these days.  Instead, I present to you, Some of My Favorite Tracks 2013.  If you were to look in my iTunes library at Top 25 Played, this is what you would probably find, (in no particular order, since I don’t only listen to music via iTunes, so counts wouldn’t be accurate):

Travis, On My Wall

Closer, Tegan & Sara

Surfer Blood, Blair Witch

St. Lucia, All Eyes on You

Britney Spears, Perfume

Zedd, Stay the Night (feat. Hayley Williams)

One Republic vs Alesso, If I Lose Myself

Lorde, Team

fun., Out on the Town

Alesso, Years

will.i.am (feat. Miley Cyrus), Fall Down

Bastille, Pompeii

Capital Cities, Safe & Sound

Pitbull & Christina Aguilera, Feel this Moment

Katy Perry, Ghost

Macklemore & Lewis, Can’t Hold Us

Krewella, Alive

David Guetta feat. Sia, She Wolf

Arcade Fire, Here Comes the Night Time

Lady Gaga, Venus

Avicii, Wake Up

Armin van Buuren, Tis is What it Feels Like

Paul Oakenfold, As We Collide

Paul McCartney, Everybody Out There

Calvin Harris, We’ll Be Coming Back

https://www.thisismyjam.com/bradgelfond#jam-history

I want to remember the Whitney in Australia 1988

Some times, places can be inextricably associated with memories of people; every time I drive by the Beverly Hilton Hotel, I think about Whitney Houston’s final hours.  I want to try really hard to replace that memory and remember her when she was her most vibrant and on top of the world.

In December 1988, I was in Australia with Whitney Houston for “The Ultimate Event,” the opening of Sanctuary Cove, a large resort on the north end of the Gold Coast.  Whitney was headlining one of the two main concerts, Frank Sinatra was headlining the other.  Whitney looked great and was so full of life.  She had just finished the Moment of Truth World Tour, which was one of the top ten highest grossing tours of the year.  She had performed at Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday Celebration at Wembley in London the previous summer.  Her album, Whitney, was a huge success, 9x platinum, and had made her a huge international superstar.  Her four singles from the album were all number one, added to the three singles from her first album, broke a record for consecutive number one hits (surpassing the Beatles and Bee Gees).  Whitney was on top of the world, literally.  This is the Whitney I want to remember.

Whitney 1988

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