We’re on the final furlongs of the wonderfully disorganised but highly entertaining brain and memory of Tony Calder. There’s no point in trying to re-cap as to where we are (just read the previous five instalments), but something prompted me to ask…..
How long were you (Immediate) at Philips? (ah, it was obviously the story of the phone box at the top of Park Lane!!)
Oh, we left after a year. They had a salesman called Darcy Glover that even Andrew couldn’t deal with. Then the guy, Geoff Hannington – he was there and hated Darcy as well. Fred Kent did the administration and there was another guy, John Deacon, who became head of the BPI. They were all at Philips – they all hated the place. When Leslie (Gould) went, they all jumped overboard. Nobody could stand this dreadful Australian. We’d already done a deal with Frank Chalmers (EMI) for Europe and then the guy on the bike who had a heart attack, John Fruin. I said to him ‘Why do you ride your bike?’ ‘To keep fit.’ ‘You’ll have a heart attack. (and here comes another diversion!) When they (Zomba) with the acts that Geffen stole off them, I go to court.There’s John Kennedy representing the band. They lost the case. The band broke up. Fruin said ‘What are you doing here?’ I said ‘I’ve just come for the fun.’ ‘Are you supporting the band?’ ‘No, I just thought I’d just sit that side to upset them’. And I’m sitting with all the band members and they’re all passing notes and Kennedy turns round and goes ‘tell them all to keep quiet – he’s a spy.’ And Fruin says to me ‘How did you know I’d have a heart attack?’ I said ‘All you guys do.’ And he never forgot I said he’d have a heart attack. He took it so seriously. I said ‘You’ll kill yourself, the stress you’re putting yourself under.’. Anyway I sat there and said ‘By the way they (the band, whose identity my research hasn’t been able to reveal…any clues?) are worried about this and worried about that. But you’re still going to lose.’ Because at that time no (record company) could win against an act.
Two furry phots from Billboard to illustrate Philips’ deal with Immediate, and the much criticised Darcy Glover – more was said that I decided against publishing!
You’d had your share of stress then?
Yeah. Everything I did he (Andrew) wanted to change when he came out. There were these horrible nuns who wouldn’t…’No, there’s no message to wake him up.’ I mean, now you go in for this treatment and it takes three days – they use proper drugs. It’s the most expensive bowl of Complan you could ever eat! Within one day I’d get a phone call – ‘Could you send round a cheque for £1100 please?’ And he had a doctor, Luke McLoughlin. I had to go for an interview with him. I said ‘You think you’re clever. Do you know what’s going to happen to you – you’re going to top yourself. ‘ ‘Don’t you talk to me like that.’ I said ‘Who’s your other client, Tony Hancock?.’ I said ‘ that poor c*** will top himself as well.’ They both did but Andrew survived because he went to the edge and got someone to hold him over, like Eric (Clapton). Eric never stuck a needle in his arm. He put so much up his nose he couldn’t stand up, but he wanted to go to the edge and look over, ‘cos he didn’t want to die.
What was it like trying to run a business with someone like that?
It wasn’t regarded as a business. It was a laugh. I actually said to Allen Klein ‘I still don’t understand why Murray Wilson gave me the publishing on a 50/50.’ He said ‘What was the deal?’. I said ‘That I put the record in the charts.’ He said, ‘There’s your deal, you made The Beach Boys. Without that, your friend couldn’t cope with it.’ It was a shame. He (Roy Featherstone) never forgave me – I made him look foolish. He held that against to me to his dying day. ‘Don’t be a c*** Roy – you told me it was coming out this week.’ ‘It’s be in the sh-sh-shops next week. ‘
I bump into Maurice Kinn the other night at some book do on (James?) Goldsmith – it was the day the Clinton interview was on. There were all these politicians there. I said ‘You’re all disgusting. My seven-year-old daughter wants to know how did the president shag the girl with a cigar. And you are responsible for all of this. I don’t want my daughter talking like that and you’re responsible.’ And Maurice goes ‘Go on – you tell em.’ I said ‘Maurice – how are you? It’s been 30 years. I can remember the day at Isow’s when you walked in and Andrew was sitting in your chair with the lettering Maurice Kinn on the back. All Andrew ever wanted in Isow’s was a chair with his name on. Maurice said all he had to do was ask, but he wouldn’t ask – he wanted to be given it. One day Max Bygraves came in and Andrew’s in Max’s chair. We had to leave. Cyril Simons (Leeds Music) came in with Max and Mick (Jagger) was in Cyril’s chair.
Isow’s – somewhat before Tony, Max, Andrew and Mick’s time!!
Maurice always carries a photocopy of the NME Pollwinners’ Concert when the Stone and Beatles were on the same bill.
The most phenomenal. He said ‘No, they (Beatles) didn’t close the show. You closed the show, we did the awards and then The Beatles closed the show thereafter.’
I’m seeing Percy Dickins tomorrow (that interview is in the vinylmemories vaults, scroll down if you missed it!)
Give him my love. He was the greatest. He’d ring on a Friday afternoon and say ‘boys, have I got a deal for you.’ ‘Yes Percy.’ ‘Front page – got to have the artwork this afternoon..had a cancellation. You can have it for £300.’ ‘Ok Andrew, we’ve got the front page.’ ‘Let’s put The Mamas and Papas on – Lou’s got a new record. Let’s put Johnny….I mean, that’s when he did that Righteous Brothers record against Cilla Black, you know the difference between sh*t and sugar. Oh, we’d just put anyone – for £300 we had a laugh. We used to take front pages. He was sensational. One way we’re taking the (whose is not revealed!) album round – that’s how we met Barry, and then one day there’s this kid in short trousers – Rob. Mr EMI. (I assume, from the following sentences, that this is reference to Warner Brothers’ then bid for EMI. Rob Dickins was chairman of the UK company at the time.) You know he’s met with Murdoch, and Murdoch’s bid is yet to come. The next thing is, Southgate will go. The shares will go down to 250, and then they’re going to put more stories out about Nancy (Ken Berry’s wife at the time) so that Ken can’t get into a position of power and right from nowhere will come Murdoch. I know the guy from Merrill Lynch who’s told me the whole plot. Dickins will become chairman of the whole thing. Southgate’s got to be fired from the Opera House and then he’ll get fired from EMI.
So (check the end of the previous episode to remember where we’re heading now – Immediate shows in Germany) we did that deal with Frank Chalmers at EMI and we used to take the acts. And we go to Germany and Andrew used to teach the acts one expression in the local language, such as ‘Can you put your seats belts on – we’re about the reach Munich airport,’ He’d also teach them ‘f*ck off’ in the local langauge. ‘Welcome to Germany,’ ‘F*ck off’ – that’s all they’d say. And the Small Faces laid into these German. The second trip, we went to Cologne and who came to airport? Mr Jung..Wilfried. In his car. And he’s going to take the Small Faces in this great big f****** Mercedes. Andrew says ‘he’s a Nazi’, gets out and pisses on the back of his car. We got complaints from EMI . Nothing was worse that when we did the Immediate presentation. We took a picture of Manchester Square and stuck shit on it. “Immediate Records doesn’t throw shit against the wall.” The salesmen were up in arms. Ken East went berserk. We did a Philips presentation and gaver them all joints. They loved it. Leslie went up the wall. ‘What have you done? They’re drugs.’ So what, have one, they’re better than a cigar.’
So, you come back from Antigua and go into World Wide Artists?
No, that was after… Can you imagine? Brian Berg calls me this morning. He says ‘I know you’ll know it. I need a number for Patrick Meehan quickly.’ I said ‘I don’t speak to him.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘He had a fight with his wife …..I haven’t spoken to him since.’
Rupert (Perry) always wanted to see Wilf Pine. The last time I saw him he’d had three heart attacks and Patrick didn’t talk to him anymore.
There are two versions of hanging people out of windows by their ankles. One is that supposedly Peter Grant did it with Bill Harry…
No, I’ll tell you who did it. It was Don Arden and Pat Meehan Sr. who hung Robert Stigwood out of the office in Edgware Road, because he tried to pull Steve Marriott. Didn’t try to steal the act, tried to f*** him and that’s a no-no.’
What happened was that Patrick Jr. saw Black Sabbath, but they were with a guy called David Platz, so he says to Ozzie ‘f*** him.’ ‘What do you mean – we’ve got a contract.’ ‘F*** the contract.’ So he steams into Philips, re-writes the deal, takes the money. David Platz get a million quid – best day’s work Tony Hall did in his life, cos he got half the money. So Patrick then walked into a bank that Don had introduced us all to – London & County. The manager was Brian McMenemy who was Laurie McMenemy’s brother. If you were short on a Friday you could go down ‘Brian I’ve got to go to America’ and you’d always have a phone call from him. ‘Er, it’s New York here; look, you must be in for the tennis on Sunday.’ ‘Brian, I can’t go -can you give me 50 (presumable £50,000). I mean, we all did it to him. So the property boom comes along and Meehan buys a property at the top of the market. He then takes World Wide Artists and turns it into NEMS Revcords, whatever it was.
So what were you doing with World Wide Artists?
I turned it into a record company. Patrick said ‘I’ve got a problem with Black Sabbath – I can’t go to the gig tonight.’ I said ‘I’m not going on the road…ever.’ ‘It’s ten grand, twenty grand, thirty grand’. ‘I’ll go to one gig.’ I go to this gig in South London. I last three minutes and I’m out the door. I said ‘Patrick, you can have your money back – I am not going on the road. I mean, forget it.’ They’d had three fights before they got onstage. I mean, the only one who ducked all the time was Ozzy. Then Pat says ‘Ozzy wants to see you.’ We we get up to Ozzy’s house, somewhere up near Birmingham and he said ‘Look after us. Patrick’s done this but you come (to the gig). I said ‘I don’t want to know,’ So he’s cleaning this shotgun and suddenly it goes BOOM and I said ‘what was that for?’ He said ‘I never liked next door’s cat.’ I said ‘I don’t feel very well, I’ve got to go.’ The next minute he shoots the record player. ‘I couldn’t stand the crackle.’
Nobody like that in the business anymore – good or bad.
I think it’s a bad thing. Unfortunately all the big acts – and it’s a great generalisation – are managed by drug dealers. There’s a very famous girl group, managed by a drug dealer. Puts the driver in and says to him ‘I’m very pleased with the girls; they’re taking a lot less drugs to cope these days.’ So the driver says ‘Don’t be a c*** – I’m supplying them’ He says ‘you can’t do that, you’re the driver.’ He says ‘I’m your supplier – how did you get into the drugs business in the first place, you idiot.’ Then they go to this woman lawyer and now her fees are as big as the commission the guy gets, because one doesn’t want to fire the manager and another doesn’t want to keep the woman. All these bands have no idea.
I hate artists that talk back! I had this club in Antigua and the cricket people say ‘Can we have a dance to raise money. The England team came in and it’s jumping. This dick brain came up to me and said ‘will you play this?’ ‘No, it won’t fit. ‘Do you know who I am?’ ‘Yes, I’m not playing it.’ It was Geoff Boycott. He complains and was told it’s my club, my records. I’m paying for everything.
Then this guy John Pickles walks one day. I thought, ‘this is another f****** Boycott.’ Comes to the fourth record and we’ve mapped out this TV campaign. Up to that time no one’s had for No.1’s in a row, and I thought ‘I want a bit of rock’n’roll history here’ He says ‘My new ad agency Creative Consultancy in Rotherham says this is a load of fooking shit. Cancel it.’ The record goes in at No.4 – he rings me and says ‘OK smart arse, what do I do?’ I say ‘£100,000 and 10,000 singles in my office in one hour.’ ‘Oh aye, that’s a bit rich for me, lad.’ It killed it, that one f****** stupid decision . He did not understand the power. Woolworths had suddenly found the power they had. Telesales ‘Oh, I’ve got an order, confirmed 200,000 order from Woolworths.’ Third party distribution with BMG. Best bit – he said ‘I’ll organise my own pressing – I’ve got a great deal with EMI.’ I said ‘have you really? Put on 50,000 – I want them in three days.’ A little girl from EMI phoned up. ‘Sorry to bother you – company’s orders but all your pressing orders are cancelled as of now. Can you collect your parts please, there’s 8,000 stock.’ Rupert calls back and says ‘I can give you till Friday.’ We sat on the phones one lunchtime and ordered 175.000 on those big old-fashioned mobiles – ordered them from everywhere.
And, if you had no idea what that paragraph was all about, here’s the clue
Do you have a view on the business today?
I get calls every week for people to manage. But I’ve got three kids and an ex-wife who’s always away. I don’t want the kids to come home one night and find us away. But there are a couple of acts out there who should be so much bigger – Robbie Williams especially, The Verve – they were never pushed properly in America.
Did you ever hands-on manage anyone?
The Small Faces, for a whole year. Until Steve said ‘I’m leaving. Then we managed Humble Pie. And I had to cover for Andrew. Andrew does like to forget.
Why did you write a book on Abba?
I’m at a party one night and this woman says ‘what do you think of Abba?’ I say ‘Greatest pop song writers ever.’ She says ‘You’re kidding’. ‘No. Gimme Gimme a Man after Midnight’ what a great line! Every gay in the country would like that.’ Dancing Queen and then those songs about the break up of a marriage, making the birds sing the songs back to them in the studio. They were phenomenal.’ She said ‘Have you ever thought of writing a book?.’ I said ‘I can’t be bothered.’ ‘Can you get a writer?’ ‘Sure.’ ‘How about thirty grand’ I said ‘How about 40 grand?’ ‘Done – OK, we’ll do it.’ We did it for forty grand. Colin (Irwin) met all the musicians, I met all the record people. No one would talk on the record. Agnetha brought her book out, which was basically what we were going to say.
And a final diversion before one of us finally ran out of steam!
Jimmy Page and I go to America. He must have been only 15 or 16 at the time. We go and see Lenny Waronker, general manager of Metric Music which is owned by Liberty. Jimmy says ‘I’d like to meet Jackie de Shannon. I’d like to write with her.’ Lenny says ‘you mean you’d like to f*** her?’ He says ‘yeah, I wouldn’t mind that as well.’ There’s this guy slumped in the corner – that’s Randy Newman – go back to sleep! They wrote ‘Come and stay with me‘. I bring the demo back and Andrew says ‘I’m not recording that bitch again.’ I said ‘I’ll do it.’ My mother rings up and says ‘You know that John D. Loudermilk album you gave me? There’s a lovely song on it called ‘This little bird.’ Andrew made Mick and Keith do a song for Adrienne Posta – we needed the money. It was called ‘Shang a doo lang’ Sid Posta, her stepfather, was in the furniture business, a very chubby little Jewish guy. He got done later for putting the wrong labels on furniture. So we threw a party. It was the party of that Saturday night, at the back of Montagu Square. Andrew is there with his wife Sheila. She could cope with the boys but not other women. Mick’s there with Chrissie – she could cope with the campness but not the birds. This place is booom andf the record’s a piece of shit. Bless her, she was a lovely little kid, Adrienne. Suddenly, it like somebody turned the volume down. This guy had walked in with this girl – white socks, skirt and a white tie and skirt. And Andrew says ‘I’ve got f*** that.’ and Mick says ‘I’ve got to f*** that.’ so they’re like…..I said ‘That’s a star, yeah, right, go and talk to her.’ ‘Marianne, would you like to make a record?’ Everyone was watching what this girl was doing. ‘I can’t sing.’ ‘It doesn’t matter. Can I have your telephone number?’ ‘I don’t have a telephone.’ ‘Can I have your address then?’ Yes. You’ll have to send me the train fare – I’m a student.’ We used to have to write letters and she’d call collect! ‘Will you come up to town.’ That’s how it happened and it was As time goes by and Andrew did rewrite the song. I think Essex Music tried to row him out of a third. I remember it well because it was with Jim Sullivan and Mick, and I had the original demo. She told me years later she was on tour with Roy Orbison and she’d gone to bed one night and realised there was somebody standing at the end of the bed and it’s Roy. She’s says ‘Yes?’ He says”I’ve come….’ ‘You’ve come to do it?’ ‘Ye.’ ‘Oh well well, you’d better get on with it then.’ It’s like he was the star of the show.
And here endeth life as recalled by Tony Calder. A few chunks have had to be excluded, either because I could make neither head nor tail of them,, or because they were too potentially libellous. Sorry!
Text ©David Hughes 2018. Photos as always for illustraiton only