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NEAR TRUTHS:
ROAD WORK

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD, PART 2: In the pantheon of the 20th-century concert business, Michael Cohl and Arthur Fogel—Canadians both—deserve special mention for their role in revolutionizing the business. They did so by creating national concert tours that eliminated agents and their commissions, as well as some promoters who balked at losing control of the box office. A turf war erupted.

Fogel’s odyssey begins at Cohl’s Concert Productions International in 1981. CPI was subsumed by BCL Entertainment (with funding from Canada’s LaBatt Brewing, for whom an overachieving kid named Michael Rapino first worked).

Fogel became President of CPI and from 1989 to 1990 worked to promote The Rolling Stones’ legendary Steel Wheels Tour as CPI had acquired international touring rights for The Stones, Bowie, Pink Floyd and other rock giants. He also did U2’s Pop Mart (1997) and Vertigo (2005-06) tours. When BCL’s concert promotion businesses in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver were sold to Universal Concerts (then run by Jay Marciano) in 1995, for $3.5m, Cohl and Fogel continued the run with their newco The Next Adventure (TNA). Robert F.X. Sillerman’s SFX bought TNA for an undisclosed sum in 1998. Fogel joined SFX; Cohl, who did not, kept The Stones as his client. Clear Channel did its $4b deal for SFX the following year.

When Sillerman bought Cohl out and consolidated the national concert tour with the promoters he already owned, the balance of power was set for decades to come. To protect other independent promoters, Tom Ross, the influential head of CAA Music, pushed back and refused to sell some dates to Sillerman. But after frustrating losses to SFX and the full impact of Sillerman’s market strength became clear, Ross left CAA, in 1998, for an early retirement—marking an abrupt end to a storied career. And Rob Light, who replaced Ross, began his 20-plus-year ascent.

Fogel became the promoter for Madonna and moved up to head of SFX Touring and then to president of CCE’s touring division. Rapino became CEO of CCE, which spun off into Live Nation in 2005. Fogel and Rapino brought Cohl back into the company when LN took over Cohl’s touring wing in 2006. Fogel also brought Madonna into LN—she signed an unprecedented 360 deal in 2007. Fogel ultimately ascended to Chairman of Global Music/CEO of Global Touring.

When current AEG head honcho Marciano was running Universal Concerts in 1995, not only did he buy the aforementioned Canadian concert businesses from Cohl, he also developed a circuit of venues, including Universal Amphitheatre, The Gorge, Fiddler’s Green, Blossom, Coors and a handful of others around the country. Seagram chief Edgar Bronfman, who bought MCA in 1995, soured on the concert biz, and in one of his less-brilliant moves, sold UC, including its venues, to House of Blues, in 1999, for a reported $190m. HOB acquired this trove of important sheds but was seriously over-leveraged in the deal and ended up selling to Live Nation in 2006 for only $350m. That incredible, monopolistic acquisition by Rapino formed part of the backbone of the network of all-important sheds that is one of the anchors of summer touring for the LN behemoth.

NOSTRA CULPA: On Saturday, 10/10, we ran a story about Q Prime’s negotiations with Ron Burkle for a possible sale based on the management company’s $80m valuation—a deal now thought to be on the ropes due to Red Hot Chili Peppers’ firing of Q Prime as their managers after more than 20 years.

Then, on 10/14, we ran a follow-up story reporting that Guy Oseary was the new RHCP manager, a claim that has been disputed by some ultimate insiders we feel should know. We didn’t call Peppers attorney Eric Greenspan, who’s repped the group for 20-plus years, to have him confirm or deny it. Nor did we contact Guy O, who calls RHCP frontman Anthony Kiedis his closest friend. We assumed the story was true because it came from the same reliable sources that gave us the info about Q Prime, Burkle and RHCP, which was verified by multiple parties.

Eric and Guy O have been friends of both Lavinthal and Beer for more than two decades. In retrospect, not reaching out to them was a mistake. We knew they’d deny the story and ask us not to run it, and we believed it to be true and newsworthy. But we should have checked in and given them a chance to comment—or at least a heads-up.

Our relationships are more important than ever, something we feel acutely amid this toxic political environment and pandemic isolation. The fact is, we fucked up. We apologize to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eric and Guy O for any disruption we’ve caused.

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WORLDWIDE GROOVE
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?
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