Larry Vallon
Larry Vallon

Larry Vallon Farewell Tour

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I’m so depressed.

The emcee was Bob Eubanks. I asked him about promoting the Beatles. He was just a booker, for a club in North Hollywood that’s long since been gone. But the big promoter didn’t want the gig. So, Bob mortgaged his house for $25,000 and got them. He made $4500 at the Hollywood Bowl that first year. He told me he was the only person still alive who promoted all three years of shows.

That’s kind of my point. Not so much who is alive, but what has been gone. They say it’s the same as it always was, but it’s not.

John Frankenheimer stood up and told the story of meeting Larry at the Troubadour and taking him back to his house to play him a new track. While he was listening, Larry went up to the vinyl and started pulling out records, throwing them on the floor, saying YOU’VE GOT TO HEAR THIS! And they spent all night playing each other records. That’s the way it used to be, that’s not the way it is now.

And someone else stood up. Coulda been Steve Jensen, maybe it was Tom Ross. Not important, but they said they used to argue backstage over who the best vocalist was. Larry believed it was Burton Cummings. Whenever this person saw Larry backstage, he’d mention another vocalist, and Larry would say NOPE!

We had our opinions. We were deep into the canon. It’s all that mattered to us.

Jeff Greenberg told me about the death of Steve Wolf. No one has seen Jim Rissmiller in years. Most everybody was over sixty, a bunch over seventy, they remembered, and despite movies and books you’ll never understand how it was unless you were there and lived through it.

They made records before, and they’ve made records after. But during that window, especially from ’64 to ’80, music drove the culture, it was everything.

On the big screen were pictures of backstage passes. Shows at the Santa Monica Civic, which no longer hosts gigs. All those lineups at the Forum, in San Diego. It was a closed culture which excluded oldsters. You listened to the radio, you learned about the shows and in most cases, no promotion was needed, the shows sold out without hype, because that’s just how into it the fans were, they needed to be there, not for the selfies, not for the social media, but the music.


Sure, you can call me an oldster, even a has-been. On the other hand, I lived through the greatest era of recorded and live music, one that may never ever return.

It was all we had. There were bands, not deejays. Every local bar had one. You dreamed of getting a deal. The highest achievement was to hear your song on the radio. And to meet the band? You died and went to heaven.

Cameron Crowe told the story of going to interview Wild Turkey at the San Diego Sports Arena, a venue Pete Townshend called a “trash can.”

Lester Bangs told him to just ask for Terry Ellis backstage.

But that didn’t work. The security guard told Cameron he was not on the list and should go hang with the girls.

But nearly an hour later, after trying and trying to get in, Larry appeared and gave Cameron his first backstage pass, and told him to look like he belonged.

Cameron interviewed not only Wild Turkey, but Yes too, but not the headliner, Black Sabbath. And when Larry asked him how it was going and Cameron said he’d been able to interview everybody but Sabbath, Larry told him to go right in and question Ozzy, and Cameron did.

That’s Larry, the nicest guy in rock and roll. At the end of his career, after fifty years.

It ends for all of us eventually.


But we didn’t think it would end for us.

My old school buddies, they’re all calling it a day, but not me, not so many in this business, we soldier on, still searching for that hit we once got.

I talked with Susan Rosenbluth about going on the road with BTS. The fans know the dances as well as the songs, it’s a secret society, kind of like music way back when.

But can anybody be as big as the Beatles once again? Can anybody make the entire universe take a left turn?

Doubtful.

But Cameron’s talking and my brain is going through the files, wasn’t Wild Turkey made up of Jethro Tull refugees?

I know all this stuff. There’s loads of us who do. Kinda like you knew what processor was in your computer at the turn of the century. But unlike machines, music has soul.

And everybody there got it.

Tom Ross told me about selling his vinyl. That one record, if he still had the poster, it was worth $20,000.


You see people want this stuff.

They don’t want CDs, they’re useless. I paid for them, I built a collection, I don’t want to trash ’em, I don’t want to sell them for ten cents on the dollar, but will I ever play them?

Kinda like my Nakamichi 582. I worked for months to afford it. It’s still on the rack. But I haven’t turned it on in years, I bet the belts are stretched out or cracked. But what it represents…PRISTINE SOUND!

We needed to get closer. Music wasn’t background, it was foreground. Every day would be a listening party. Your friends would stop by and…

That’s why I’m so depressed. It’s sad Larry’s leaving, but he’s getting out in time, for whatever he got into it for is now gone.

I’m not saying I don’t hear good records. But music is back to being a business, when for a while there it was life itself. Tickets were cheap, but you couldn’t get them, but if you scored, you were inside, you were privileged, it was the only way to hear the band, there were no videos, rarely films, scratch a boomer and they’ll tell you about their favorite shows and wax rhapsodic.

I couldn’t play the radio on the way home. I left the Roxy and my spirits sank. I’m typing to you on my computer, but in the old days, I would have broken out a record, placed it on the turntable, put on the headphones, dropped the needle and turned out the lights. It would just be me in that bubble, with the music.

It was all we needed.


Responses from Bob’s readers – please note, these comments are not edited for grammar or content and do not necessarily reflect the views of CelebrityAccess or its staff.

 

Larry.. truly one of THE nicest guys ever in this biz and always went out of his way to do or say something nice and he loved us musicians. They don’t make guys like this anymore.

Steve Lukather

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Larry has always been one of the classiest guys in our business. We’ve spent many a Jazz Fest together. His love of music and people is a standard that not enough people today even strive for, let alone achieve. He represents the kind of person and executive, to say nothing of dear friend, that all of us want to be around and learn from. I hope he enjoys his so well deserved break from the madness (which I know he will also miss). The one good thing for the rest of us is that his daughter Kelly has followed her father into the business and she is the embodiment of all the things we love about her dad. So at least we will still have another Vallon in our world for years to come. Bravo, Larry! And thank you.

Michael Reinert

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How can I begin to wish our friend and cheerleader Larry Vallon best of luck.
I first met him in the late 80s when I was the young Irish guy working for all the great bands from England and we always shared a story or a laugh in those days and enjoyed the music.
The business was changing but fortunately for us we worked with such talented artists and managers that music was at the forefront of every show we did together.
More recently he was the Promoter on The Who’s 50th Anniversary and he was very involved with that being such a huge success as he and his great team paved the way and guided us all through some wonderful shows.

Larry being a very modest man would travel with us on many a Tricky day and being very much part of The Who’s family and always met us with a smile and a good story and was always able to deal with the extreme sense of humour within the group and especially from the great Bill Curbishley.

When The Who signed up for the historic Desert Trip shows he introduced me to the wonderful Golden Voice team led by Paul Tollet at the bands MSG shows.
The Garden being site of many a great Who show and really their second home didn’t need much cheerleading from Larry that night and I watched him smile and sing along with Paul as Pete, Roger and band tore through another historic NYC Who show which laid the ground for two wonderful shows at Oldchella later that year along with all the other geezers on the bill.

At Indigo The Who proved again how audience and band are one of the same spirit.

He’s a great supporter of the bands charity Teenage Cancer America which I’m sure he will continue to help on another type of great Garden shows.

Every where I go in the world everyone has a nice word to say about Larry mainly because he is one of the last remaining music biz characters who you knew was on your side through thick and thin.

You can now let your hair grow long again..thank you Larry.

Tom Kenny

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The kindest man in the biz…

Will always have the memory of
Him standing next to me at Santa Monica civic as Bruce opened for Dr. John…. he was in awe.

And I was throwing the handles On the wall mounted lighting controls.

I was 19 or 20, my first time out of Philly. Larry, thruout the years, always had a smile and kind words
for everyone.

He is the definition of a mensch.

Your description of the time is perfect.

Now we have Coachella.

Good Luck trying to b inspired.
As the cloud of greed envelops
the air that u breathe.

Thanks Larry for everything !!

xo
marc brickman

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I had the pleasure of working with Larry when he was with Concert Associates, which turned into Wolf & Rissimiller in 1970 and beyond. I got to work for them and over shows for Larry when he couldn’t be there. I was so proud to being playing the role of Larry at the shows I covered for him. He was always so kind, calm and cool no matter what the situation was. I am so happy for him and honored to have known him for so many years, although I have rarely seen or talked to him in recent years. Thank you Larry for giving your friendship and life to a once great experience and business that has slipped away over the years that I have lived and will treasure in my personal memory bank till the day I die.

Thank you,
Jimmy Johnson
Worldwide Tour and Production Management

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Larry was the best!

Val Garay

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I really enjoyed this one, for many reasons, I have always held Larry in the highest regards. The Crowe story was well documented in almost famous, at least the part about him trying to get in and to go wait with the girls, I could invasion It as soon as I read the words, it’s top 5 movie for me.

I just love the history of the biz, I can’t get enough of it. Anyway thank you for sharing the highlights of last night. I hope you and your wonderful better half are both happy and well.

Dan Steinberg

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Bob, I was Loggins & Messina’s Rd. Mgr. we did several shows with Larry Vallon at Santa Monica Civic Aud. and one in San Diego where Cameron Crowe interviewed Kenny and Jimmy. Forget who L&M opened for but Cameron might have been 18 yrs. old. Larry Vallon was great to work for and with. Johnny Palazzotto

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Thanks for this letter Bob.

Larry Vallon

Amazing career and life.
Admired and respected from the top to the bottom of the food chain.

Larry did the past few tours with The Who, a friendly face around to keep the vibes good and happy.

Larry was part of the touring crew and often jumped in at a “crew” table in catering, this makes a huge difference in morale

( when the band, mgmt and promoter are eating in catering, you know it’s going to be higher standard)

Larry didn;t push his stories and experiences on you, he drew you in.

Like many of the Artists I’ve been humping gear for, Larry got probably worn out by the travel not the gigs.
I’m sure I’ll again see him at some loading dock and get a chance to say hi and catch up

Thanks Larry

TS

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I worked with Larry from 1976-1979, handling industry/guests tickets and backstage for Wolf & Rissmiller Concerts. Larry truly was a class act and one of the nicest guys I have ever worked with (and I subsequently had a 22 year career in sports television working with mostly men)! He treated everyone equally and if there was ever a problem backstage it was never about finding fault but just “let’s fix this.” Wolf & Rissmiller was a very small company staff wise but we banded together to produce some of the most amazing concerts back then, whether at the Forum, SM Civic, Anaheim Convention Center, Long Beach Arena, San Diego Arena, etc. We also banded together at one of the most difficult times back then – the November 1977 murder of Steve Wolf.

I last spoke with Larry many years ago when he was with Universal Concerts. He helped me purchase great seats for my mother to see Eydie Gorme & Steve Lawrence! Although I lost touch I periodically kept up on his career through the trades. His continued success never surprised me.

I wish Larry and Claudia (his girlfriend back then) much joy in this new chapter of their lives.

Best,

Susan Panitz

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Bob: I didn’t know Larry Vallon is retiring. Thanks so much for your piece. Larry is one of the nicest, most trustworthy people I’ve ever worked with. We did so many shows together when I was managing Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie, Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood, etc. that I can’t count them. We rarely see each other these days but I will truly miss him and so will our whole industry. Ken

Ken Kragen

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Amazing night, and a more amazing man in Larry Vallon.

A true gentleman in every sense of the word.

I am Blessed to have Larry as a professional mentor, but far more so to count Larry as a friend.

Mark Girton

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Thanks for sharing this Bob, I’m one of many people that are grateful to Larry and his wife Claudia for their kindness and generosity.

I was a kid growing up in LA in the 1970’s, and Larry and his wife Claudia became good friends with my Mom, who had recently divorced , and was tying to make ends meet as a nursery school teacher in Santa Monica.

Larry many times gave us tickets to see the bands that I loved (Aerosmith, Boston, Linda Ronstadt) that my Mom could not have purchased otherwise, had us over to their house in the Palisades, or Larry might swing by our house in West LA to grab lunch at Tito’s Tacos. Can’t tell you how much that meant to a 9 year old kid who was acutely aware that his Mom was working hard to just keep the family afloat.

Those first shows I went to as kid as Larry’s guest made me a life long music fan, a DJ and program director at my college radio station, and working for many years in the music business in distribution and at labels, seeing hundreds of live shows along the way. Today I’m still thrilled when the house lights are lowered and the band comes out on stage to start to play.

Though I’m a huge fan, I never landed a job in the concert promotion end of things, so unfortunately I haven’t crossed paths with Larry or reconnected since I was a young kid.

Looking back now as an adult, I’m grateful to Larry for those first shows that planted the bug to pursue music as a career, but even more so that he was a young guy in his mid- 20’s that was kind enough to share some time and affection with a little kid who really needed both. I doubt if he knew at that time how much it meant that a young adult would think that I was an interesting or funny kid, but with little else going well in my house it was a rare point of pride for me that Larry treated me like a friend, talking about music, TV, the Dodgers or whatever, and I just happened to be a kid.

I’m sure he has done a thousand small kindnesses during his career, and I hope that many people had the chance to thank him in person at his ‘farewell tour’ evening. I thank Larry and Claudia for the kindness and love they shared with my Mom and myself during a rough period for us, we were so lucky to have such kind and caring friends. No doubt there are many others who share this sentiment, as good people like them just can’t contain their kindness, it flows out of them into everyone they encounter.

Please share this with Larry if you could, and thank you for sharing your thoughts and life with us.

Thanks!

Jay Manning

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I first met Larry in 1985 when I was given the opportunity to interview with him and Jay Marciano for a promotion/publicity gig at the Universal Amphitheatre. I felt immediate rapport with Larry and Jay, and I thought the interview was going well. Then I was handed a sheet of paper with about ten bullet pointed job “requirements,” most of which I had little to no experience with. I looked it over and, rather than try to bullshit these two, and with nothing to lose, said, “I don’t know most of this stuff, but I could learn.” I will never forget, or cease to grateful for, their enthusiastic, “He could learn!,” response. This was a classic case of being the right guy at the right time: I got them, and they got me. I was determined to never give them cause to doubt their confidence in me.

Larry was a tremendous boss and mentor to me. He kept me on my toes, as nothing – not the smallest of details – got past him. He always encouraged drilling down a little deeper, in search of the bigger audience. And the Uni Amp was cooking in those days: 160-some nights a year. I was thrown into the deep end with managers, agents, media types, and talent. It was a lot of hard work, and many 12 hour plus work days and nights; there was no time to fuck up or slack off. But there were a lot of laughs, stories told, and stories made. Where else would a kid like me from the blue collar suburbs of LA get to go elbow to elbow with Jack Nicholson in the Green Room? I have often referred to my time there as my Music Business grad school years.

Larry was always generous with his knowledge, his relationships and experience. He introduced me to some major players and included me in meetings above my pay grade. We had some epic trips around town in his MCA executive level vehicles to taco stands and power lunches, the beaches and foothills. And the lessons never abated; his wisdom was always wrapped in good humor, and usually with an accompanying funny, teachable moment anecdote.

When the opportunity came for me and my wife, Lori Anderson, to leave LA and move to Seattle in 1987 – me for Warner Bros., she for A&M – I felt like I was prepared to deal with anything radio promotion (and music business politics) could possibly throw at me.

I had the good fortune to have lunch with Larry last year in Los Angeles. I hadn’t seen him since he and his lovely wife, Claudia came up to Seattle in 1988. After 30 years, it was if no time had passed at all. Suffice to say, I love this man and will always be grateful for his mentoring, friendship and the many kindnesses he showed me.

PS: I am reminded as I write this that when I told Larry what a big fan of the LA Rams my dad was, Larry arranged to get a team ball signed for my dad with his name custom painted on it. My unassuming, and humble father was floored by this random act of kindness. I swear I am tearing up as I write.

Larry: The nicest guy indeed.

Jim Anderson

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Sorry I wasn’t able to be there. Larry is one of my favorite guys in the world. He has always been a stand up guy as well as a friend. This business is worse off without a personality like his in it these days, as the kids doing this get younger and younger, and just don’t know the joy of being at risk doing this! I know Larry will enjoy time doing whatever he wants and not being married to a computer and iphone any more. Larry Vallon made this a mo betta occupation just by the fact he was here to even out the odds against the real pricks out there. I still love show business! Love ya Lar!

Danny Zelisko

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Bob, you’re depressed? I spoke to Jeff Greenberg this morning and we are thinking of doing a double suicide jump off the Village Recorders!!! Maybe old habits, but I always read the Times to start my day and then onto emails. I was pleasantly surprised to see you had already written about last nights efforts to salute a dear friend and pioneer in the concert world. I was also intrigued by seeing you so involved in watching his peers salute and pay tribute to his helping hand contributions to many many lives and careers that he helped promote, let alone the artists he spent his lifetime promoting and protecting. I guess journalism is like songwriting, when you get the buzz of what is clearly a theme, you have to purge the ideas to capture the moment. Last night was such a rare event to have a room honoring one of their own, one of the “behind the scenes” legends who doesn’t get headlines or glamour, just someone who loved music and loved working in that jungle to present the best concert experience for artists and fans. I especially found it ironic that the editorial section of the Times had a timely piece about how Joni Mitchell and David Hockney make LA better by showing that youth is important but so is endurance! Amen, maybe we won’t jump yet.

Tom Ross

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ALWAYS a smile.
ALWAYS, “What can I do for you?”
ALWAYS there with whatever you needed, and we always needed something last minute because our bands always needed something last minute.

Larry is one of the truly great ones.
Sorry I missed the tribute.

Hopeful this email, and what I’m assuming will be many more of us chiming in for Larry will keep this chain going for a bit longer.
xo
Janie Hoffman

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I have known Larry Vallon since 1970…when we were all youngsters working with the most exciting artists in the world in a wild and wonderful business that was unfolding.…..myself and Gary Perkins had started Pacific Presentations around 1970 after Pinnacle Dance Concerts in the 60’s, and we quickly become arch competitors of Concert Associates, later Wolf & Rissmiller all through the 70’s.….Larry was their “gunslinger” and “do it all” guy….and even though we were all very fierce competitors, Gary and I had special liking and respect for Larry…..he was just a wonderful fun guy and we had many mutual friends like the Fernandez brothers, Jeff Greenberg, Tom Ross, etc…. and we all gave each other a lot of mutual respect and admiration…. and even partied a bit together (out of sight of course). Those were very special days with beyond great music accessible everywhere…and we were all in because we loved the music.….We were all lucky to have been there with such a great group of people and artists….Larry was one of the best …and nicest, and more than deserved to have the long fruitful career he had….

Sepp Donahower

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Larry is truly a great human being one of the good guys

Butch Stone

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Thank you for celebrating, Larry.

I met Larry in 2004 when he joined AEG Live. I was in my early 20s then just making my way into the live business and I was blown away then and now with how effortlessly he wears his knowledge, experience, relationships and experience. It’s a tough business, especially starting out but working with and for Larry was like being with family. He always took time for me and told me how he got his start “icing coca-colas” back stage. I learned that being a part of the business at any level was important and valuable to the artist, plus incredible experience for me.

It was a few years before someone else told me the Cameron Crowe story and that the scene from Almost Famous was inspired by LV. He would never be the one to tell it and I can assure you there are thousands of others just like it out there.

He is all about working to make everyone better, propping others up and is an inspiration to me.

One of his daughters, Vanessa, is now working with us in our content group and we value her greatly while we have her. She is destined for great things. 🙂

Dean DeWulf

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RE: Vallon – A real gentleman. The conduit to so many great shows..Bravo Larry, they don’t make em like you anymore..
Ed Eckstine
Woodland Hills, California

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Larry is a beautiful human being beyond being a great industry executive. Be it at Universal or at AEG, Larry has always been someone who strived for the win win for all. He was always willing to help, always had time to share stories and catch up when I’d stop by his office and always wanted the best for all. His love for the business, the music and the artists remains true. His heart is always in the right place. To see Larry and his daughter Kelly together is a reminder that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

KIm Garner

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Only Larry could land this with a smile and make you feel good about a true mess. Enjoy as you gave. Kevin Benson ENTERTAINMENT Teena Marie Delays Concerts March 22, 1985 Teena Marie’s six concerts scheduled at the Beverly Theatre tonight through Sunday have been postponed because the singer is suffering from bronchial pneumonia. The concerts will be held June 2-4 and June 8-10. Tickets for the original concerts will be honored at the corresponding rescheduled shows.

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I worked at Universal Amphitheatre from 90-93 alongside Larry Vallon.
There was a ridiculous set of rules and production guidelines, part of the deal for a specific size tour, of course most tours were bigger and of course required more stage hands, catering etc, then the agents and bookers agreed on.
Being the production manager I was the one that was the first line of defense.
Often it was a delicate conversation. Larry always made both sides happy and always had time to listen. I learned honesty and integrity from Larry. He led by example. True character.
In other letters published by fellow touring personal we all revered Larry, to me that speaks miles.
We are the working class of the music business and Larry is welcome at our table anytime !!!
Thanks for writing

Cheers

Bobby Schneider

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