Quantcast
THE WILDEST YEARS OF RADIO PROMOTION, PART THREE

SAINTS & SINNERS

MCA was only a factor during the time Irving Azoff ran the company from ’83 to ’89, while Richard Palmese and Steve Meyer oversaw promotion. Meyer, who was a Wendell protégé, could deliver the mail like Karl Malone. Richard had worked for Clive, who hated people smoking cigarettes near him, but for some reason he gave Richard a pass; he’d light up between courses at the Palm, blowing smoke across the table, and Clive never said a word. Richard had studied for the priesthood; maybe that’s why Clive treated him with such respect.

Under Irving, they got super-hot—at one time they had the four top-selling albums in the country. These guys spent money like it was water, but apart from that stretch under Irving, MCA was generally referred to as the Music Cemetery of America. After Palmese smartly went back to work for Clive as promo chief in ’97, he lasted another 15 years until 2012, when—under Doug Morris at SonyRCA’s Tom Corson and Peter Edge opted to go with Joe Riccitelli as the head of the department. Richard then reunited with Irving, where he remains, still a highly effective promotion executive. Richard is a survivor.

A&M’s Charlie Minor was the archetypal party animal; “Girls, Girls, Girls” was his theme song. He must have gotten every major program director in the country laid. He was a big star on the A&M lot, where he remained until 1990, when PolyGram chief Alain Levy named mediocre rock promo man Al Cafaro to run the label after Herb and Jerry cashed out, and Cafaro wasted no time pushing Charlie out as he systematically dismantled this great record company. Irving made Charlie president of his Giant Records startup, and after that he came to work at HITS. He was always a giant pain in the ass to do business with, but he was so much fun to hang with and I loved the times we spent together. Charlie came to a tragic end, murdered in 1995 by a stripper who was insane with jealousy; he was just 47. His memorial service on the A&M lot drew what must’ve been a thousand mourners—half of them Victoria’s Secret models.

Johnny Barbis succeeded Charlie—who’d succeeded me—at ABC/Dunhill. Barbis was then hired by Geffen and Eddie Rosenblatt to head promo when they started the Geffen label in 1980, and there he remained until ’85, when he was fired and replaced by Screaming Al Coury. While at Geffen, he helped bring Elton John to the label, and the two became extremely tight; Barbis managed him from 2009 to 2015. He spent three years (’91-94) working for Alain Levy at PolyGram, and soon after Edgar’s Universal Music Group bought PolyGram in ’98 and Doug Morris rearranged the merged companies, Barbis exited, along with Levy, David Munns, Roger Ames, Cafaro and Danny Goldberg. Morris had Iovine on the West Coast, with the Lipman brothers, Sylvia Rhone, Jim Caparro and the notoriously cutthroat Lyor Cohen on the East Coast.

Barbis was President/CEO of Island (’94-97, briefly returning in ’98), where he formed a strong bond with U2, a transformative relationship in his career; co-prexy, with Nick Gatfield, of A&M Associated Labels (’97-98); and in 2000 was hired by Mo Ostin and Lenny Waronker to help them run DreamWorks. Historically speaking, Barbis was hired and fired by some of the greatest record men of the modern era. He was well-liked and had unusually close relationships with the artists he worked with over the years; more than anything, these relationships defined his career. If he were a racehorse, he’d have been a big-stakes handicap winner with great breeding before being put out to stud.

Phil Quartararo—better known as Phil Q—worked for Ienner at Arista and went to Chris Blackwell’s Island before starting Virgin in America with Jeff Ayeroff and Jordan Harris in 1986. Eleven years later, he became president of Warner Bros. under Chairman Russ Thyret and held a top post at EMI (2002-07). Phil Q was full of life, with an outsized personality in a compact package. He had a way of getting really close to people when he talked to them, and when he looked up with that big smile, it was hard to say no to him.

...Read Part One, The Italian Job

…Read Part Two, Tookie, Raymo, Polly & the Crazies

MAYBE, JUST MAYBE:
MOBILE PHONES,
IMMOBILE HUMANS
Lenny Beer needs to cut down on his screen time. (9/30a)
RAINMAKERS: MICHAEL RAPINO, NATION BUILDER
A tease for the upcoming edition, eh? (9/30a)
THE DEATH OF PRINT JOURNALISM: GRAMMY PREVIEW EDITION
Gimme an "H." Gimme another "H." (9/30a)
NEAR TRUTHS: PARANOIA STRIKES DEEP—INTO YOUR LIFE
IT WILL CREEP*
A high-revving column (9/30a)
YOUR TOP 20 IS
FULLY LOADED
Prediction: There will be 20 albums in the Top 20 this week. (9/30a)
GRAMMY TALK
We're full of it.
AFRICAN POP
Getting global with it.
IT'S PRETTY SMOKY
And this time it's not from our bong.
WHAT COMES AFTER TIKTOK?
Shorter videos! Weirder trends!
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)