Op-Ed: Jerry Weintraub – By Bob Lefsetz

I was just getting ready to e-mail him about our lunch. Literally. My plan was to get off the phone and then send him a note. Circling back after he reached out multiple times before I went to Paris. And while I was on hold, I found out he died.

Talk about eerie. I've never had this happen to me before. People speak of missing out on saying goodbye, of their destiny being changed in seconds, but…

I didn't know what he wanted. To be honest, I'm always anxious when bigwigs track me down, I feel inadequate, and I frequently avoid the meeting, I don't quite know what to say.

Although I know Jerry. We aren't best friends, but I know him. I went to lunch with him at Il Piccolino, where he literally ate the Jerry Weintraub special. And Jerry was warm and open from the get-go, treated me like an equal, brought me into the family, and I marveled at his style.

I'm not talking east coast style, which is sartorial and pecking order, but west coast style, where it's all about being part of the family, where the majordomos take care of each other. Jerry Weintraub established the paradigm. At least in the music business.

You see it was about favors. There's nothing Jerry wouldn't do for you. He was wired in every facet of life. If you needed a doctor, if you needed a connection, he knew who to go to and opened the door. It's those who give who are larger than life, who have power. That's Irving Azoff's specialty. And David Geffen's too. You've got to be magnanimous.

But you've got to fight for what you want too.

Jerry reached out to me when I wrote about his book. He invited me to the premiere of his movie. He always included me, never talked down to me, and I was looking forward to our lunch to cement the bond further. Maybe he had an opportunity for me. I was now ready.

But it will never happen.

And this ends up looking more about me than him.

But that's who Jerry was, a supporting player. And the more you support, the longer you last, the bigger you are.

People like Jerry never retire. The game is in their blood. Hell, he just launched a show on HBO.

And he changed the concert business irrevocably. So far in the distant past that unless you were there, you're probably unaware. Live Nation is just the last iteration of what Jerry started. Local promotion was on its way out when Jerry got involved. And the old players hated him for it. If you're not despised, you're not making a difference. But those who make a difference last, they are the legends.

And what I also loved about Jerry was the intimacy. He'd tell you stories about himself and his family that your best friends wouldn't. Their screw-ups as well as their triumphs. He was Big Papa, but he had his limits, you could go too far.

Jerry won at the game of life. He had love, happiness and money. And although he complained about his aches and pains, his back was a constant frustration, I thought he'd be around forever.

But he's not.

So let this be a warning to you. Seize that opportunity. Say yes. Make it happen.

Jerry always did.

And I didn't. Which is why he's now gone and I feel so empty.

"Jerry Weintraub's Book" (11/1/10): bit.ly/1HbYJv5

"More Weintraub" (11/3/10): bit.ly/1dIp9K2

"Lunch With Jerry Weintraub" (12/6/10): /bit.ly/1KMFJ8Q

"Jerry Weintraub's Movie" (3/23/11): bit.ly/1KIbv8n

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