LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) For lack of a better term, the “heritage” acts have seen a resurgence in recent years, although some would say they’ve always been around.
This report was inspired by two simultaneous events: a trip on an “oldies cruise,” as it were, and a comment by Rick Mueller on Bob Leftsetz’s recent podcast.
As for the latter, AEG exec Mueller made it clear that the interest in acts like Journey and Def Leppard (who happen to be touring stadiums this summer) is growing. As for the former, the Flower Power Cruise through the Caribbean was packed and this reporter heard from two different acts that they were having the times of their lives or, at least, the best times of the past 25 years.
“We’ve been busy,” Paul Cowsill of The Cowsills told CelebrityAccess, noting that the “Happy Together Tour” has helped create a recent surge for the band.
“We are definitely riding some kind of wave,” Susan Cowsill finished.
The Cowsills, by the way, were the family band of the 60s, inspiring the Partridge Family, with Susan Cowsill the little 10-year-old girl with the tambourine (who for whatever reason knew all the dance moves of the time and had one of the best singing voices of the decade – and can still belt it out).
Meanwhile, the Family Stone, as in Sly & The Family Stone, was over the moon about its recent increase in bookings – or, at least the quality of them.
The band’s Jerry Martini told CelebrityAccess he equated the death of the band’s Cynthia Robinson to not getting a chance to have proper cancer treatment because of scheduling issues. That’s not the case with current agency APA and responsible agent Guy Richard. Martini and drummer Greg Errico sang Richard’s praises up and down, attributing him with giving their careers a needed jump.
“When I had a chance to take on the Family Stone I heard they had been bouncing from agency to agency, and mistreated,” Richard told CelebrityAccess. “I met them and totally fell in love with them. They’re nice people. Jerry and Greg, they’re just good people.”
The question is, and there are several answers, if there is a new wave for “old people stuff.” Richard was reticent to say that he’s seen a resurgence, but not Charlie Davis of Paradise Artists, who has put together the “Happy Together Tour,” and who said there are plenty of differences between now and five years ago.
He was asked if the change had to do with baby boomers unloading their nest eggs as the years grow shorter.
“I think that’s a lot of it,” Davis told CelebrityAccess. “Plus you’ve got to remember a lot of these classic rock acts like the Foghats, the Guess Whos. People my age, their kids listen to those songs. ‘Slow Ride’ will pop on TV shows and commercials. It was on Guitar Hero. The demo – you have a lot of 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds who want to wear handkerchiefs on their heads and drink and rock out like dad did. It’s like John Cale and Steppenwolf. Everybody wants to be a weekend warrior Hell’s Angel. They want to go be born to be wild, they want to light up one or two and have a damned good time. You go to these events where these artists are playing at, it’s like, ‘Holy shit! It’s a great time!’
“Is there a resurgence? Definitely yes and thank God for all of this. It’s like it was 25 years ago for a lot of these artists when casinos first came back on the scene. For a lot of the B acts, low A acts, casinos saved their careers.”
Richard was more subdued.
“I think it’s just that people are noticing now,” he said. “When I was at William Morris, for about 20-something years, the bread and butter of that music department was the heritage acts. We would sell Tom Jones, Art Garfunkel, we were selling Don Rickles, Donna Summer. We were selling Loggins & Messina, Julio Iglesias, making big cash money. I don’t think there’s a resurgence, it’s always been there, but people are just now paying attention to these numbers.
“Last year, on my table, I had Stephen Stills and Judy Collins get together. They were romantically involved in the 60s and there was a breakup. There was the song ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.’ The rest is history. Katherine DePaul (of Rocky Mountain Productions) gets the credit for putting the tour together. She had been trying years to get Stephen on the package.
“It’s put on my desk. Lo and behold we do 51 cities last year, with 26 advance sellouts. It was a big surprise for us. We knew it was going to do well but not like that. This year we have another 30 cities. We’re up to 81 cities with folks in their 70s.
“It’s good business. Go figure. I guess the answer is people want to go back in time and they want to experience their good feeling again. I know I liked listening to this stuff in college. Maybe that’s the case with the ticket buyers because you can’t buy records anymore, right?”
“I have for example, the band Foghat,” Davies said. “It’s unbelievable how this year and last year have gone for them. ‘Slow Ride,’ ‘Fool For The City,’ and ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You.’ It’s unbelievable the business that we’re getting on them. They’re like Grand Funk and The Guess Who, they’re working all the time. They don’t have a Friday or Saturday available until the fall.
“They’re fly acts. They’re not on the tour buses but there has been a huge resurgence for them. And bands like War. That’s another one that’s working all the time, like Tower of Power. Then you have the 60s, the Happy Together Tour. I’m the RA and we’ll do, I think we have about 43 cities booked and we’ll probably end up with 50. It’s ground-routed, the whole 10 yards, on buses and trucks. And we sell hard tickets. It takes me back to high school.”
It should be noted that a lot of these acts do not sleepwalk through their shows; they can not only play like they did back in the day, but can be just as energetic. The Guess Who and Grand Funk Railroad, who performed on the Flower Power Cruise (which Charlie Davis attended because he had about eight acts on the ship), are good examples.
“You’d think, ‘Hey that guy’s 70, 75 years old,’” Davies said. “And they get up there and you watch the drummer for Grand Funk Railroad, Don Brewer, he’s in great shape. And the guy from the Guess Who – he doesn’t look it but he can still play the friggin’ drums. Look at the drummer from the Hollies – that guy was friggin’ unbelievable. Look at Felix Cavaliere. He was having a good ol’ time. And he’s gotta be in his 70s, I imagine.
“Hell, I’ve handled Chubby Checker for 47 years and he’s probably in better shape than most 40 year old men out there today, moving around that stage like he’s Mick Jagger, who is 75 years old. I mean these guys you think they’re moving a little slow but, boom, when the light hits them, they’re 20 years old again.”
“Johnny Mathis is a great example of that,” Richard said. “Here’s Mathis who is 81 years old, American treasure, one of the great crooners of the world, and he just gave me 35 shows to sell, we’re in March and we sold them all. I gotta tell ya, I could sell every weekend with Johnny Mathis if he’d let me. I’ve got a sack of offers on my floor right now.”