Shaper: Harvey Goldsmith

Show aired on 6th June 2015

Transcript

Elliot Moss
That was the sound of Robert Glasper and I Stand Alone. I hope you enjoyed it. Good morning, it’s me, Elliot Moss here on Jazz FM’s Jazz Shapers; the place where you can hear the very best of the people who are shaping the world of jazz, blues and soul alongside their equivalents in the world of business, a Business Shaper. I am extraordinarily pleased to say that my Business Shaper today is none other than Mr Harvey Goldsmith; impresario in chief, one of the most important people in the music and entertainment business in the last 30 or 40 years and he is here with me and you are going to hear a lot from him very shortly. In addition to hearing from Harvey you will also be hearing from our programme partners at Mischon De Reya some words of advice for your business and on top of all of that of course, some brilliant music from the shapers of jazz, blues and soul, including Cannonball Adderley, the late BB King and this from Van Morrison.

That was the famous Van Morrison with Someone Like You and one of the people that Harvey Goldsmith has managed. Harvey is my Business Shaper today and for those of you in the know, he needs no introduction but for those of you that don’t know, he has been at the top of the music business and the entertainment business for around 40 years. Way back in 1966 he opened Club 66 and then post that, around the 70s he formed the Artist Management Production Company and then a company called Harvey Goldsmith Entertainments, he has put on the garden parties at the Crystal Palace Bowl, he’s brought Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and so many others we could spend 45 minutes to an hour just telling you the phenomenal list of people, it never does justice to the work that he is doing. Thank you so much for joining me.

Harvey Goldsmith
Very pleased to be here.

Elliott Moss
Now you may not have ended up doing anything like this Harvey, just tell me a little bit about how you ended up in this crazy business that you love?

Harvey Goldsmith
Like most people in the entertainments business by pure accident. My whole life has been about luck and timing and I was destined to be a pharmacist and applied for a course that six weeks after I went to University was stopped and so I was in a bit of a limbo and very angry and I went to a student union meeting down at Sussex at the College of Technology and was listening to all the stuff they were talking about and I said, ‘where’s the social life?’ and they didn’t know who I was because there was no reason why they should and they asked me who I was, I said I was from pharmacy and they said ‘well we never see pharmacy reps at student union meetings, they are always too busy, what is it you want to do?’ and I said, ‘I think we should open a club’ and they said, ‘alright clever dick, open a club’ – it was as simple as that. I said, ‘okay I will’. So I opened a club in January 1966 called Club 66 and by the end of my first year at University doing a course I didn’t want to do because I had to re-register for an external London course which I really wasn’t interested in, I found myself on the finance committee of the University because we were bringing so much money in and the club was for students and it was just lucky. I mean it was… that period, the mid-60s to the early 70s is probably the most creative period we’d seen in any of our lifetimes. Both in music, change of attitudes in art, literature, painting, sculptures, fashion, style… everything changed during that period and I just went along with the wave really and was just really lucky to have met so many of the great musicians in their early stages, their early formative stages and work with them and then continued onwards.

Elliot Moss
Now before that point you got to University and you said you went to the meeting, you put your hand up and you said ‘let’s open a club’ and they let you and the rest is kind of history. In your childhood though were you exposed to art and culture and music and all the other things you just referenced?

Harvey Goldsmith
Yeah we had a lot of music at home. Kind of parts of my family were used to playing… I had an uncle that played in a band called The Six Swingers in the 40s. I had another uncle who is a guitarist. My brother played clarinet badly. We used to listen to jazz a lot at home and then another part of my family were all into opera and a great uncle by marriage was a very famous conductor called Yasha Orenstein who was the world’s leading exponent on Brooklyn and Marla and he was the guest conductor of the LSO and Chicago Symphony and whatever and later on in my career we used to swap war stories so he would drag me along to some dreadful Polish chamber music concert and in return I would bring him to see The Pink Floyd which he absolutely adored so it was an interesting upbringing.

Elliot Moss
In the blood as they say. Stay with me for much more from my Business Shaper today, the impresario Harvey Goldsmith. Time for some new music, this is from the eleven year old sensation who recently signed a deal with Harlem’s Motema Records, it’s Joey Alexander with I Mean You.
Harvey Goldsmith
How extraordinary is having an eleven year old kid playing, in essence, the loneliest moment. Fantastic.

Elliot Moss
Isn’t that good and from Van Morrison, one of yours to some new talent. I mean that is the thing – I am with Harvey Goldsmith if you didn’t catch it earlier, the impresario, the world of music, the world of entertainment, many many famous bands have been brought to this country and moved around it because of this man here and the fact that you mention it and you talk about the music and you talk about your past, you’ve got a massively good ear. I mean people say of you that you have taste and I remember interviewing John Hegarty, Sir John Hegarty of BBH who said ‘ you can’t teach taste, you can do lots of other stuff but you can’t teach taste’. Is that true?

Harvey Goldsmith
Yes. I have always had an eye for talent, an ear for music and a head for organisation and that’s what’s got me through to where I am today and I still get excited about watching new talent and if I can, trying to guide them along.

Elliot Moss
Now you’ve talked about your eye, your ear and your head. There’s another part which you haven’t mentioned to me which is, in Yiddish it would be chutzpah, it would be the courage to go ‘I am going to put skin in the game, money on the table because I believe in myself’. What about that bit? Because that’s a really important part of your success story isn’t it?

Harvey Goldsmith
Well yeah I mean the role of a promotor besides running a 24 hour wet nappy service, is basically that you are betting on the three thirty every day of the week so you are sticking your money down in the belief that not only you but other people will enjoy and pay to see great talent and it doesn’t matter whether you are dealing with the Rolling Stones or The Who or you know, Michael Jackson or Prince, it’s still a bet. It’s still a risk until that curtain goes up, you don’t know whether you have mitigated your risk or not so it really is a gambling business.

Elliot Moss
It’s a gambling business but you’ve made not a science of it but you’ve had pretty good years, sustainably good years so you know, putting down a million quid on the table as you would call it and a bet for Bob Dylan for example, is it really a bet because as you said, if you’ve got that eye and that ear and…

Harvey Goldsmith
Well of course from my perspective I hope it isn’t a bet but in truth you are, I mean, you are taking huge risks and the bigger the show, the bigger the risk.

Elliot Moss
And why have you got an appetite for risk Harvey? Have you always had one? Or have you developed it as you have got more confident?

Harvey Goldsmith
Well I suppose I have a different attitude really. I am not a gambler funnily enough at all and I don’t like taking risk so my view is that if I see, hear and like talent I believe that I am here to give the opportunity for other people to enjoy it as much as I do and so my feeling is that if I get all the elements right, people will come and see it and then it is the choice of that talent. So I don’t really, I mean I know in the back of my head that I am gambling every day and I am taking huge risks on large amounts of money but in truth what I am trying to do is say this talent needs to be seen, it’s fantastic and millions of other people hopefully will share my view and it is only a question of how you present it and where you present it and when. And luck and timing kind of pervade through my life.

Elliot Moss
You mention the wet nappy service and there is a story apparently about Alice Cooper’s snake and finding the hotel room for the snake. Is this true? You did that?

Harvey Goldsmith
Oh yeah.

Elliot Moss
Yeah so, so…

Harvey Goldsmith
All of those are true.

Elliot Moss
…you go from the crazy stories which you hear and I remember interviewing Chris Wright and he had a couple himself from Chrysalis. The other side of it though, is that what drives you? This sense that I want to bring these brilliant people to a mass audience? Is that the thing beyond the money? Is the money just a function?

Harvey Goldsmith
It doesn’t have to be to a mass audience.

Elliot Moss
Or any audience, or the audience…

Harvey Goldsmith
I just, I love music, I’ve loved music all my life. I think it has an emotional drive that no other facet of culture can give and I think that if you find great talent which is rare, I mean there is thousands of acts and wannabes and whatever out there but if you find great talent and you can present it well, other people want to share in it. People, you know, there’s always this ongoing talk that people don’t want to go out and they are sitting on their computer and they are on their social media and Twitter or Facebook and blah, blah, blah, blah. People do want to go out and they want to share experiences with other people and so and when they do it is that emotional level pervades through an audience and not only does it work for the audience but there is a bounce back between the artist on stage, their job is how do they get over that barrier which is the line at the end of the stage into the audience and the magic is when the audience feedback the emotion that the artist is giving over on the stage to them and they feed it back to the artist. The artist plays better.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for more insights and hopefully some emotional bounce back as well with my Business Shaper today, the impresario Harvey Goldsmith. Latest travel in a couple of minutes and before that some words of wisdom for your business from our program partners at Mishcon De Reya.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers with me, Elliot Moss every Saturday morning join me here on Jazz FM talking to someone in the world of business, someone who is shaping the world of business, all sorts of industries, all sorts of people, all sorts of shapes, colours and sizes, you can join them right here with me. If you have missed any go into Catch Up at the Jazz FM App or any other place including iTunes, BA Highlife if you are flying, CityAM and even FT.com, we’ve got you covered I hope. Today my Business Shaper is Harvey Goldsmith, he is the impresario who has been inventing and re-inventing entertainment and music in this country and his impact is also felt beyond these fair shores. He is a CBE, back in ’96, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French no less which is a pretty good honour isn’t it, not bad.

Harvey Goldsmith
Very nice.

Elliot Moss
The Diamond Award in 2012 for contributions to the arts, he is an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from the University of Brighton. It is extraordinary. He is properly one of the leaders in this part of the world of entertainment. All these accolades I have just reeled them out there for a second, do they have any kind of impact on you at all? Does it matter for someone like you?

Harvey Goldsmith
Does it change what I had for breakfast, no. Do I get upgrades in hotels when I go to America, yes – love it. It’s good for the family, I mean, you know, when I got my CBE it was a complete surprise and of course my dear mum and my dad they loved it, they could never work out what I did anyway so this was the icing on the cake. Of course, it’s nice to be accepted by your peers and it is always good but I mean, do I wake up in the morning going ‘Oh my God I am not a Baron yet, no’.

Elliot Moss
But if you are listening…

Harvey Goldsmith
Get on with it.

Elliot Moss
But that, you obviously have, look its good. Recognition is nice, as you said, acceptance in way is nice.

Harvey Goldsmith
Of course.

Elliot Moss
What would you, do you think everyone that’s worked with you over the years, you talked about organisation and you obviously are an organiser par excellence. What would your teams of people and you still work with teams of people. What would they say about Harvey as a boss?

Harvey Goldsmith
Well put it this way, none of them leave so if that’s good maybe that’s the answer. I had the best team in the world. I have the best production team, I have the best marketing and management team and without them I couldn’t do it and I rely on them and we work very well together and I am an open book. I don’t suffer fools very well but I have trained and worked with so many people in the business and I am quite proud of that really. I mean everywhere I go there is somebody that has worked for me at some point that I bump into and they are all doing good and I am pleased for them and its really important. You know, you see a name above the title but that’s kind of for legal reasons because if anything goes wrong, the public want to know who do they beat up, so do the press but behind that name is the team and that team is vital. You’ve got to have good people working with you or otherwise you couldn’t do it.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for more from my Business Shaper today, Harvey Goldsmith. Time for some more music, this is the legend who just recently passed away, it’s BB King with Better Not Look Down.

Harvey Goldsmith
BB King, he was an extraordinary character and I last worked with him strangely enough at a gig at The White House and I was managing Van Morrison at the time, it was about two and a half years ago and we were doing an event to kind of mark the history of the blues and BB was there and BB had a club and we, you know, he was a great… there was a mutual admiration society between Jeff Beck and BB, he was a wonderful guy.

Elliot Moss
Now Harvey you’ve worked with all these people, you obviously got over being star struck many years ago?

Harvey Goldsmith
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
Managing talent on that level where you are working with proper genius rather than people, I have seen people throw round the word genius a lot. How do you do it? How have you done it so effectively?

Harvey Goldsmith
I hate it – is the answer. I never wanted to be in management. I felt it was terribly time consuming and it is a marriage, it’s a tough marriage but somehow or the other people got to me so some of it was huge fun. I mean I managed Billy Connolly for ten years and then Bill in the 70s, Bill Wyman phoned me up one day and he said, ‘Van Morrison wants to meet you’ and I said, ‘Where, when, how and you know, like I am going to meet him’. So we talked. He was looking for a manager. So I came armed with a list of potential managers and managers are quite important in an artists’ life and we talked and he thought about it and he said, ‘Can we meet again?’ and I said, ‘Yes’ and we met about four days later and he said, ‘I’ve thought about it and I want you to manage me’ and I said, ‘Well I don’t really do management’ and he said, ‘Yeah yeah’ he said, ‘If you manage me and then manage another band like Black Sabbath’, ‘cos I see you don’t work enough and he said, ‘Well if you manage another band like Black Sabbath who I promoted, that would be a great combination and you can pack up promoting’ and I said, ‘No I don’t want to do that’. Anyway I looked after Van and Van was going to come over and live in England and then for various reasons he decided he didn’t want to so he moved back to California and I was commuting backwards and forwards for three weeks because he was putting his life back together at the time and he did an album called Period of Transition which is the first record that we did together which is exactly what it was, it was him coming back into the world and he needed a lot of encouragement and nurturing and so on and I just couldn’t take all that travel. It was a nightmare so we had along chat and we had a bit of a row and when I agreed to take on his management I said, ‘Look I am fine with it but I just want to make sure that if it comes to a point where it doesn’t work, we are not going to fall out, we just have agreed how it will work’ which we did and I said to Van, ‘Look I can’t do this anymore, you want to live in LA that’s fine’. Too long distance at the time, I mean this was before all the current communication opportunities and I phoned up an associate of mine, Bill Graham, who is a very famous American promotor and I said, ‘Bill I need to find a manager for Van locally’ and we did and I said to Van, ‘You know you are much better off, you need someone on the spot where you are’ and so we parted company and then there were various other artists that I got involved with over the years and then I was in New York and I got a phone call to say Jeff Beck wants to meet you and Jeff Beck was another hero, a real hero, you know, as much as Van is a hero in his voice and his song and his interpretation, Jeff with his guitar was the voice of guitar. I mean without… I have worked with all of them and without a shadow of a doubt he is numero uno by a mile and I was quite intrigued and Jeff said that ‘I have been floundering around and I am not being recognised at all’ and I said, ‘Well if you want to do it, I will help you’ and with these big acts, I mean, I worked with Mick Jagger on his solo career, I worked with Roger Waters when he left The Pink Floyd. They are not easy but you have to interpret what they want and try and give them the equipment, as I call it, the tool kit to do whatever they want to do at that period of time. But my love really, my life is about promoting and producing, I enjoy doing that and you’ve got the freedom to do it and I enjoy doing lots of projects at the same time.

Elliot Moss
We are going to come to that in a little bit. Final chat coming up with my Business Shaper and fantastic guest today, Harvey Goldsmith. Plus we are going to play a track from Abbey Lincoln. That’s after the latest traffic and travel here on Jazz FM.

The exquisite sound of Abbey Lincoln with Afro Blue. Just for a few more very precious minutes Harvey Goldsmith is my Business Shaper, impresario in chief, one of the big names and the driving forces in the entertainment world over the last 40 years, probably four decades, not three decades… we will just keep adding on decades Harvey even though he only looks about twenty. Harvey you mentioned there the incredible array of people, I mean the biggest names in the music industry. I am just going to pin you down, I want a couple of words and I know you said you are more of a promotor than a manager and a producer and you absolutely are but they kept asking you to it and you are obviously pretty good at it. If there were two adjectives they would choose, any of those people, as to why Harvey Goldsmith was a good manager despite you saying you hated it, what would they see, what would they say, what would be those adjectives? How would they describe you?

Harvey Goldsmith
I suppose understanding what they want and being able to deliver it. I think that’s the key and knowing how far to go with an artist ‘cos…

Elliot Moss
You mean in terms of talking to them or in terms of pushing…

Harvey Goldsmith
Both in talking to them and both pushing them out as they can go.

Elliot Moss
…how far they can go.

Harvey Goldsmith
And they have to have the desire to want to do it otherwise I can’t do my job.

Elliot Moss
You said you were an open book. Are you? Do you believe in the thing that you should really square with someone and say what you think or is there a hierarchy you know?

Harvey Goldsmith
Yeah. I am the only one that tells artists ‘no don’t’ and its terrible.

Elliot Moss
They love it don’t they? Do they love it?

Harvey Goldsmith
Yean I mean you know, I have been known to go to artists and say it’s the worst show I have ever seen you do and then they look at you and go yeah well, you know, they make… artists are surrounded by Yes Men, surrounded by them.

Elliot Moss
In all of that time you’ve also done a lot for charity. You are incredibly philanthropic. What drives that in you?

Harvey Goldsmith
Because I have spent my whole life taking out of a business and it’s just as easy to put something back and I think it’s kind of incumbent that if you can, to put something back to society. Why not? How difficult is it? I mean there are difficult projects, I mean when we did Live Aid we were just delving into the unknown and when we did Live Eight 20 years, 25 years later it was a little bit easier but still difficult.

Elliot Moss
Was that something that occurred to you as you became more successful or was that something drummed into you as a kid? That you should give something back?

Harvey Goldsmith
It was definitely drummed into me as a kid. I mean my upbringing was that you know, you have to put back what you take out and if you can, why not. And I keep saying why not because it is really easy to do it, it’s a bit of extra time and effort but I have been lucky enough again to have helped shape some of the biggest causes in the world, I mean, I suppose in my life I must have raised over three hundred million pounds, something like that. Not much.

Elliot Moss
That’s incredible. Not much, not bad.

Harvey Goldsmith
And continue to do it.

Elliot Moss
Better than a chunk of change.

Harvey Goldsmith
And we have another event this year that we, you know, we continue. So this year we are focussing on climate change which I am a huge believer in so we are doing a big event in Paris, September.

Elliot Moss
It’s critical and it is brilliant that you are doing that because I know that it will be successful and raise awareness even more than money because it is actually about people changing their minds and changing behaviours and Governments too. There is not enough time to go into the fact that you are producing the Hunger Games, that is going to be coming out next year. My son is already grateful, he doesn’t even know you are doing it but he will do.

Harvey Goldsmith
Well I am working with a… I love doing different projects, very quickly I am working with a Dutch theatrical company called Imagination and within that the creative producer has come up with a really unusual way of presenting theatre and because of that it doesn’t fit into a standard proscenium arch theatre so we have to build theatres to produce the projects so we have two shows in Holland at the moment, one I have just come back from yesterday is The Diary of Anne Frank which is a year old and we are going to build a brand new theatre at Wembley because finding space in the West End is difficult but at Wembley there is so much more opportunity with communications, travel, stations whatever and you can park right outside the front door. So we have to build theatres to fit our productions and we are going to open next year with the Hunger Games.

Elliot Moss
Well we will be there. I am going to have to find some way of getting tickets.

Harvey Goldsmith
Well you are.

Elliot Moss
I hope I know someone who can help me with that. Listen just before I let you go, thank you so much for being my Business Shaper, fascinating and incredibly impressive and you are a humble man too which is always nice to see and a person that gives back. What is your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Harvey Goldsmith
I suppose my ultimate jazz hero was Miles Davis and I had the privilege of working with him and I took him round Europe some years ago and then I went over and helped him with his 30th Anniversary concert at Radio City. He was an extraordinary person, probably the most difficult artist I have ever worked with in my life who actually the first day I ever met him, threatened to kill me but other than that life was good and musically he changed the face of music generally. The phases of composition that he’s presented to the world and when he showed the way using an electric band as well, in jazz and if you take it right through his history his influence really is kind of where music is today.

Elliot Moss
And here it is, it’s So What.

Harvey Goldsmith
So What.

Elliot Moss
From Miles Davis. Thank you so much, here it is.

That was So What from Miles Davis – just one of the many acts that Harvey Goldsmith has been associated with, managed or promoted. What a man. Iconic in the world of music and entertainment. Unbelievable. Touched every part of the business and been incredibly successful; given over three hundred million pounds, the man behind Live Aid amongst the team that produced it and he is continuing to do extraordinary things, the climate change stuff as well as producing the Hunger Games next year. A real shaper from the world of the entertainment business. Thank you very much for joining me, I hope you enjoyed the programme. Do join me again, same time, same place, that’s next Saturday, 9.00am here on Jazz FM. In the meantime stay with us because coming up next it’s Nigel Williams.

Harvey Goldsmith is a legendary and visionary producer and promoter of rock concerts, charity events and television broadcasts. He has produced, managed and promoted shows with most of the world’s major artists, including Bob Dylan, Jeff Beck, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Santana, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Luciano Pavarotti, The Bee Gees, Jools Holland, Bocelli, Yusuf Islam, Rod Stewart, Diana Ross, Jools Holland, Shirley Bassey, U2, Eric Clapton, Madness, Queen, Elton John, Pink Floyd, Sting, Genesis and Cirque du Soleil; and the Princes’s Trust, Luciano Pavarotti’s Farewell Tour, Live 8, Nokia New Year’s Eve and The Merchants of Bollywood.

In 1978 Harvey Goldsmith promoted the first major global TV event The Concert for Kampuchea at Hammersmith Odeon featuring Paul McCartney, Queen and The Who, which raised over $2 million from worldwide sales to benefit the victims of Pol Pot’s reign of terror in Cambodia and in 1985, Harvey Goldsmith organized the now historic Live Aid concert with Bob Geldof which raised £140 million for famine relief in Ethiopia and became an inspiration for hundreds of similar concert events.
In 1996 Goldsmith was honored with a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Harvey Goldsmith has received numerous awards in recognition for his contribution to the music industry including the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French Minister of Culture as well as the 15th Music Industry Trust’s Awards (MITS), and has been bestowed The British Order of Chivalry.

Follow Harvey on Twitter @harvgoldsmith

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

“My whole life has been about luck and timing.”

“…that period, the mid-60s to early 70s, is probably the most creative period we have seen in any of our lifetimes.”

“I have always had an eye for talent, an ear for music, and a head for organisation.”

“I have been known to go to artists and say: it’s the worst show I have ever seen you do.”

“I know that I am gambling every day, and I am taking huge risks on large amounts of money, but in truth what I am trying to do is say: this talent needs to be seen.”

“I just, I love music. I’ve loved music all my life. I think it has an emotional drive that no other facet of culture can give.”

“I am a great believer that if you can use your prowess without extending yourself too much to help other people, why not?”

“When I got my CBE, it was a complete surprise and of course, my dear mum and my dad – they loved it. They could never work out what I did anyway.”

“I don’t like falling out with artists, but there is a point when it comes to an end.”

“I suppose in my life, I must have raised over three hundred million pounds, something like that.”

“Do I wake up in the morning going: oh my god, I am not a Baron yet? No.”