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Good Vibrations: Top 10 Music Moguls

Good Vibrations

Feature by Jack Foley

THE masterminds behind our most favoured and iconic bands of all time, it only seems fair that the music moguls of the world should be credited for their work.

Whether they act as producer, manager or general mentor, they are a vital component to an artist’s success.

Therefore, to honour the release of Good Vibrations on Blu-ray™ and DVD on August 5, we are celebrating the efforts of our top ten independent music tycoons. We are finally transporting them from the cobwebbed behind-the-scenes to the star-adorned spotlight.

Hugely influential in his own right, Gary Kurfirst was hailed as “one of the first managers who basically built the rock business” by esteemed colleague Chris Blackwell. Through organising the New York Rock Festival in August 1968, Kurfirst became involved with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, leading him to manage several notorious groups such as The Ramones and The Eurythmics. His adaptability to the rock, pop and punk music genres paved the way to his success and ultimately his role as an executive at Island Records – if this doesn’t scream music mogul, what does?

Heavily interested in the punk rock movement, it was only fitting for Alan McGee to become involved in that genre of the music industry. As co-founder of the record label Creation Records, he invested his own talents and skills to manage some of the most popular bands of all time, which include the legends Primal Scream, Oasis, The Libertines, The Jesus and Mary Chain as well as My Bloody Valentine. Triumphant in building up the bands’ respective reputations to an all time high, it’s clear that he was incredibly influential. It is even thought that he was the behind the change in legislation in the 90s which allowed musicians to be funded by the government for their first three years. McGee is a truly inspiring figure in the business!

Terri Hooley was a radical, rebel and real believer in the revolutionary power of the seven-inch single. As a music lover in 1970s Belfast, Terri witnessed the bloody conflicted known as the Troubles shut down the city. As all his friends took up arms, Terri opened first a record shop, and then the Good Vibrations record label, discovering a powerful voice of resistance. He signed and managed bands such as Rudi, The Outcasts and most significantly, The Undertones. It is no surprise he was such an influential figure on the punk scene when considering the success of The Undertones, a band that became hugely popular with hit singles such as Teenage Kicks and My Perfect Cousin. Hooley is a fantastic example of a mogul that championed the unknown against all odds! Take a closer look at his story in the critically acclaimed film Good Vibrations, out on Blu-ray and DVD on August 5.

Founder of Island Records, recognized as one of the greatest British independent labels to date, Chris Blackwell paved the careers of numerous notable artists that include Bob Marley, U2 and Grace Jones. He was the first to record Ska, Jamaican popular music, and it seems that it was as a result of this that the world turned to appreciating reggae music. His talent in identifying and sparking new trends made him such a prominent figure in the industry – a tycoon extraordinaire!

Colonel Tom Parker, a legend in forging the career of Elvis Presley, was a stunningly smart manager. The King of Pop said himself that “I don’t think I’d have ever been very big if it wasn’t for him”, proving that Parker was in fact the mastermind behind Presley’s success. Parker developed this young star into a brand name, envisioning him as one of the biggest talents of the 50s and 60s. It was through his guidance that Elvis balanced a music and film career, a talented mogul if we ever saw one!

Big hair full of wisdom, Malcom McLaren was a visionary in the world of music. Managing The Sex Pistols, he did what he knew best – shock and awe. With the band’s infamous single God Save The Queen, they initiated a huge controversy. McLaren reigned in on this, extending the scandal by organising for the band to perform on a boat outside the Houses of Parliament during the Queen’s jubilee. Whilst he was arrested for this, it was McLaren’s unconventional strategies like these that brought him and The Sex Pistols fame.

A current and trend-setting figure in the music industry today, Polly Comber is definitely one to watch. Her present endeavour managing Bastille, who she signed to Virgin Records two years ago, paved the way to their successful No.2 single and No.1 album. Prior to this, she discovered and signed The Stereophonics as well as forging the careers of Morcheeba. With such an extensive list of accomplishments, it is no surprise that she has set up her own label Black Fox Management – we expect many more great artists from her in the near future!

Known as driven and astute, Peter Grant made a name for himself in more ways than one. He was one of few managers of the time to exercise a hands-on approach that was both practical and successful. Whilst he guided the careers of The Yardbirds and Bad Company, it was his inspirational management of Led Zeppelin that gave him a legendary status in the music business. He tapped into the US industry, establishing an appreciation of Led Zeppelin throughout America. During his career he also managed to improve the pay and conditions of musicians in the UK, making him the superhero mogul of the 20th century.

Known for his talent-spotting capabilities, Pat Magnarella can be identified as a notable figure in the music industry. Starting out in the mailroom at a booking agency, he has certainly climbed the ladder of success. Both inspiring and creative, his clients include Green Day, All American Rejects and The Goo Goo Dolls – he is the charismatic manager we would hope to look after our favourite bands. A natural in the business.

All you can hope for in a manager is devotion, and Chris Hufford is certainly not in short supply of it. Abundant with creativity, Radiohead is his masterpiece. His aim is to create excitement always, and it is no doubt that it is this outlook which led Radiohead as well as Supergrass to such a great repute. Not just the brain behind talent, Hufford is also a musician which is a route he is currently exploring. Clearly a man well founded within most, if not all, aspects of the industry!

Good Vibrations is released on Blu-ray™ and DVD on August 5, 2013 from Universal Pictures (UK)