Sunday, January 17, 2016

Managerobit: Giorgio Gomelsky

Giorgio Gomelsky, the original manager of The Rolling Stones, has died.

His entry into the music business came by way of London's coffee bar boom - his tiny Espresso bar became such a hit it formed a foundation of a nightclub; then, he helped create The Crawdaddy. This venue gave early starts to the Stones, Julie Driscoll, Rod Stewart and others. Although his stewardship of the Stones career wasn't long, his early support gave them the base on which Andrew Loog Oldham would build; Gomelsky moved on to help The Yardbirds build their career.

By the mid 60s, Gomelsky was running a management/label hybrid, Paragon, releasing music on the Marmalade label. This came apart when the money men for the venture at Polydor fell out with him; Gomelsky headed for France where he would find himself working with Gong and managing Magma, almost single-handedly creating an alternative music scene for the nation.

Since 1978, he lived in New York. He curated a series of music festivals and again got involved with releasing music and managing musicians.

In 2001, he spoke to Eurock about how the business had changed in fifty years:

When I got to London in the mid-fifties, the “pop” scene was just a pale imitation of white US commercial music. At least there was a local “do-it-yourself” music, “skiffle”, (imported to the UK by British bandleader CHRIS BARBER) derived from Lonnie Johnson and other blues/folksters, which allowed young people to take up instruments. The Beatles started out as “The Quarrymen” and were able to inject some freshness into music when they started to make it. The Stones and the other blues bands introduced a new generation to black music thereby rendering an invaluable service too. European musicians were practicing jazz, and although aesthetically more appreciated than in the US, it seemed less urgent, less “dramatic”, less speaking to a new generation. So rock took over. Later the punks kicked everybody in the proverbial ---. This opportunity is still present, but bands/managers/labels are now so focused on making it in whatever category they and the “industry” define themselves to be, that a “major breakthrough” has become well nigh improbable. It’s the old story yet again, the seemingly tragic-comic vicious circle between the true function and merit of art and that of commerce and politics. Ultimately, it’s a question of education. I’m hopeful that the internet will allow the natural curiosity of those attracted to music to explore every nook and cranny of musical production and discover where the real values are and that bands will emerge who know what directions to pursue.
Giorgio Gomelsky was 82. He died of cancer, like so many others.

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