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WHEN LAVINTHAL MET BEER FINALE:
THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH

The first year after I got fired, I hung out a lot with Irving Azoff, who managed Steely Dan, Joe Walsh and Jimmy Buffett, as well as the Eagles and Dan Fogelberg, and we contemplated starting a label together. When he finally stopped taking my calls, I made a deal, during the most drug-fueled period of my life, to run the West Coast office of Steve Leber and David Krebs. During the next year, their management clients Aerosmith and Ted Nugent did a stadium tour, and they opened Beatlemania on Broadway. I quickly learned that being on the West Coast for an East Coast-based company was boring and not for me. I liked Krebs; he was cool. But Leber was a loudmouthed, cigar-chomping, gold-chain-wearing, Polyester-Nehru-jacketed agent from Long Island—I think his claim to fame was booking the circus.

As I was leaving the company, Peter Mensch was starting there, managing AC/DC and Def Leppard. Leber accused me of putting fish in the door panels of the Mercedes they’d leased me when I returned it. When they got the car to NYC, every cat in Midtown could be found in the garage where Leber parked it. Crazy, huh?

At that point I decided to get sober, clean up my act, look for a job and go into analysis. I was now not the next big thing—that was for sure.

I did some consulting for labels and managers while trying to decide what to do next.

Warner’s Joe Smith had succeeded Geffen as head of Elektra/Asylum in 1975, and when Joe left to go into sports management in 1983, Bob Krasnow was given the chairmanship of Elektra, then based in NYC. Both Mo and Ahmet supported the move by Steve Ross.

Kras flourished there as Elektra became a super-cool label with commercial and critical successes such as Anita Baker, Stereolab, The Pixies, The Cars and Mötley Crüe. When Cliff and Peter were shopping Metallica in 1984, Kras said the rock band’s name was so perfect that he didn’t need to hear the record and made the deal on the spot.

After Steve Ross passed away in 1992, Kras, along with Mo, got caught up in the Bob Morgado bullshit that ended both their runs at WMG two years later.

Meanwhile, Beer became head of promo at 20th Century Fox Records, working for Alan “Ears” Livingston, the guy from Capitol who’d famously passed on The Beatles (he’d also created Bozo the Clown, fittingly enough). Lenny broke a couple of acts, but he got blown out after only nine months in 1978.

We met for lunch at Art’s Deli in Studio City and decided to start an indie-promo/marketing/management/consulting company, aka anything we could do. “Give me six months with your Rolodex and my brains,” Beer promised, “and we will do something great.” At that point I was just trying to put bread on the table for wifey and two kids, or else I’d be shuffling off to Seattle to go into business with my dad and two brothers.

Beer was right; we started MusicVision together, got hot, and I’ve backed his play ever since. Nobody I know has ever had a better batting average, and we’ve had each other’s backs through thick and thin. I love the guy like a brother and would do anything for him.

That FBI interrogation back in the day had been a great lesson about how to conduct—and not conduct—business, and when Beer and I went into business together, I had only two rules: (1) no coke ever, and (2) never do anything outside the law—especially regarding taxes or payola.

And that served us well, because 1986 saw the issue of payola blow up once again after the infamous Brian Ross NBC investigation into the mob, the music business and indie promo, all of which led us to start HITS 30 years ago. 

...The Rest of the Story

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