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BOB GIBSON,
1939-2020

Bob Gibson, the bon vivant who helped set the tone for living the good life during rock’s ascendance in the ’70s, died of natural causes on 10/23. He was 81.

Gibson was an important behind-the-scenes influencer in the emerging Los Angeles music scene. Smart and charmingly brash, he had an instinctive knowledge of what would work in the changing social order; he was one of the first music-business figures to urge performers and their representatives to use their voices to raise awareness at fundraisers for issues and candidates.

Gibson was immediately recognizable as he drove among the offices of record companies, managers and agents in his white Rolls Royce.

Having worked with a series of traditional PR companies, Gibson hit his stride when he teamed up with Gary Stromberg to form Gibson & Stromberg, which became a force in public relations and marketing—innovators who developed effective, au courant strategies for acts including The Beach Boys, The Eagles, Pink Floyd, The Who, Curtis Mayfield and The Allman Brothers Band, as well as for special events, companies and concerts. G&S were also infamous for throwing the best and most memorable parties, like the notorious bash welcoming Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare.

The agency’s bustling Sunset Blvd. headquarters was the first stopping-off point for bands arriving from England, who often stormed in even before dropping their luggage at the Continental Hyatt House. G&S’ relationship with bands like The Rolling Stones, ELP and Roxy Music had made them the official go-to company for musicians and bands expanding into the U.S. market. From their perch on the Strip, Gibson, Stromberg et al. became fixtures at the best restaurants and watering holes in L.A. Tuesday nights usually found the entire office at the Troubadour as they catapulted artist after artist into America’s consciousness, among them Elton John, James Taylor and Cheech & Chong.

G&S’s eventful run ended abruptly, shortly after their consortium opened the Rainbow Bar and Grill. Gibson became an executive at ABC Dunhill and Stromberg moved on to produce films. But corporate life did not suit the former, who soon left ABC to open a string of boutique music PR firms. He continued to represent labels, publishers and concert promoters, spearheaded the promotion of rock festivals held in stadiums across the country, introduced acts like Aerosmith, Public Image Ltd. and Philip Glass and produce unforgettable events like Queen’s multi-day album-release party in New Orleans.

Stromberg and Gibson at a G&S reunion in 1998

Born and raised in L.A., Robert Hazard Gibson was the only son of Colonel Bill Gibson (Navy ret.) and Suzanne Ainsworth Hazard. He began his career parking cars at the legendary Coconut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel, one of the franchises of his grandfather’s System Parking Co., the largest such operation in the U.S. With a desire to become an insider and recognizing that the Grove was the social and entertainment hub of the city, he charmed the restaurant’s PR rep into taking him on as an apprentice. This move enabled him to dive headfirst into the social milieu of Los Angeles.

He subsequently managed the L.A. iteration of New York’s Cheetah nightclub on the Santa Monica Pier, overseeing the mylar-and-silver fantasyland, hosting everyone from Vogue models and editors to L.A.’s hippest artists, actors and musicians. He also opened the Black Rabbit Inn, catering to the organic tastes of young, hip West Hollywood before transitioning to marketing music full time.

After retiring from public relations in the late ’90s, Gibson took a position as director of his family’s burgeoning System Property Development Co. and relocated for several years to Montecito, Portugal and Palm Springs. During the 2010s, he returned to L.A., living in Hancock Park.

Gibson is survived by his three sons, Courtney, Christian and Bobby, and his sisters Melinda Haldeman, Patti James and Cynthia James.

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