NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) A documentary called “The Show’s The Thing: The Legendary Promoters of Rock” is currently being shown at the DOC NYC Film Festival in New York that explores the early days of rock promotion which means, mostly, the days of Frank Barsalona and Premier Talent.
An in-depth piece in The Guardian today delves into the documentary, a history of Barsalona who can be called one of the early founders of rock promotion or the founder of the national rock agency system with Premier Talent, or both. Along the way promoters like Larry Magid, Don Law, Irv Zuckerman and the Belkin brothers make their appearances.
“In colorful detail, the film lays out how Barsalona blueprinted the modern concert business (now a $10bn industry), along the way changing how audiences relate to the music, while also providing crucial support for some of its greatest stars,” the Guardian says. “‘No act becomes huge without a key promoter doing his work,’ says Bob Geldof in the film.”
The documentary covers how Barsalona reshaped rock and roll concerts, changing it from the old Vaudeville format of a headliner playing a couple of hits to the more recognizable, modern-day extended performance. And it was Frank – he was known throughout the national network of the music industry as “Frank” – who built the Premier Talent agency, filled with acts like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Who, and determined which promoter, in which market, would be the presenter for the act.
“In a joking way, Barsalona based his system on the mafia, awarding each promoter his own territory to control: Larry Magid had Philly for his Electric Factory, Don Law, owned Boston for the Boston Tea Party, the Belkin brothers staked out Cleveland with the Agora Ballroom and so on,” the Guardian says. “As one promoter told the film-makers: ‘It was like the mob, but without the violence.'”
“[Irv] Zuckerman and I didn’t make any real money until 1973 when Frank Barsalona took notice of us,” Steve Schankman of Contemporary Productions recently told CelebrityAccess. “We had sold out two shows with Yes and Poco at at the old Kiel Auditorium (now Scottrade Center). No one had sold out one 10,000-seater let alone 20,000 people for two shows. Bill Elson, our agent at Premier Talent, called us and said, ‘Mr. Barsalona wants to meet you guys.’ Frank gave Irv and I our biggest break. You had Feyline, Concerts West and Regal Sports in St. Louis. Contemporary produced shows including Joe Cocker, Frank Zappa, Humble Pie and Emerson Lake & Palmer in 1972. But it was in 1973 when Frank Barsalona gave us the tip of his hat that Contemporary started to build our company.”
It is not known if Premier’s Barbara Skydel, Frank’s very New York cohort and the contact at the agency for The Who as well as acts like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, is in the film.
The documentary is premiering tomorrow night at the IFC Center and Cinepolis Chelsea.