When my partner, Tim Tormey, told me we could get the Beatles to perform a concert in Pittsburgh, but we needed to put $5,000 in a brown paper bag and deliver it to a bartender in Brooklyn, my heart sank. But I made it happen. I had no idea what an exciting life that first risk would lead to.
In my memoir, Hard Days, Hard Nights, these and many other backstage stories that the public never hears about are written from the promoter’s point of view. The reader has the opportunity to gain insight from my decades of experience with the main headliners. I was a leading concert promoter for decades, and I tell stories about my own experiences with some of the world’s greatest entertainers—from The Beatles to Bette Midler to Springsteen. I focus on how the concert business, as well as rock and roll, developed into the mega-concert industry it is today.
I started my career as a songwriter during the 1950s near the birth of independent record labels and became a pioneer concert promoter, responsible for promoting most of the concerts in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas from the 1960s on.
The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, and Sly and the Family Stone were among the hundreds of acts that I promoted in the 1960s, when the concert business was just beginning to blossom into today’s gigantic-grossing business.
But before all of that, my entry into the entertainment life began when I was in second grade and my father thought I should play the violin, but some bullies thought differently and beat me up for not playing football instead. I began playing in clubs with my uncle when I was fourteen. Four years later, I wrote two songs for the Del Vikings, a top national group during the 1950s who had two big hits at the time, “Come Go with Me” and “Whispering Bells.” This was the steppingstone to working with nationally known recording stars and promoting their new record releases to radio stations and retail outlets.
This book tells of the struggles I endured to reach the position of controlling the concert business in a large city. It’s a heartwarming, triumphant story of a boy who started out with nothing and rose to the top.
Hard Days, Hard Nights will be available in September of 2014.