Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Rock'N'Roll Row

Famed music entrepreneur Simon Napier-Bell (pictured left) was in Sydney last month and Whispers popped along to the Newtown music club Leadbelly to hear him give a talk on the music industry.  Napier-Bell discovered such legends as Marc Bolan & T-Rex, Dusty Springfield and the late George Michael and Wham. He has managed numerous stars and steered their careers including The Yardbyrds in the 1960s up to Sinead O'Connor last year.

One of Napier-Bell's themes is the influence of gay managers on the emerging music business in Britain that included not just himself but Brian Epstein and The Beatles, Kit Lambert and The Who, Australian Robert Stigwood and The Bee Gees and Larry Parnes. Parnes discovered and launched numerous stars in the 1960s including Billy Fury and Marty Wilde. One tale told by the late Kit Lambert is that Robert Stigwood rang Parnes and said " I've just driven past your office and there is a blond Adonis working on the roadworks, look out your window". Parnes looked, spotted the handsome blond and the career of Tommy Steele was born. Napier-Bell reckons gay managers had a unique feel for what teenage girls wanted and acted upon it.
Top: Epstein & The Beatles* Jann Werner Bottom: Stigwood & the Bee Gees. Kit Lambert & The Who

Parnes & Tommy Steele
The New York Times just last week featured this theme (after speaking to Napier-Bell) in a feature written by journalist Jim Farber on the occasion of the pending launch of a biography of the famous Jann Werner who launched the music bible Rolling Stone magazine. Werner, now 70 only just came out the closet recently. But an almighty row is now brewing between Werner and his biographer which you can read all about. What fun!

The articles:

The Gay Architects of Rock

Who created that gorgeous 20th-century creature, the rock star? Consider
the gay image makers of the day, like Brian Epstein and Jann Wenner.