(CelebrityAccess) — Dick Alen, a legendary talent agent who represented artists such as Aretha Franklin and Chuck Berry, died on November 27th. He was 89.
Alen, who retired in 2010, spent more than 60 years in the industry, including a long tenure at the William Morris Agency/William Morris Endeavor that included a five year stint heading up the agency’s music division.
Alen got his start in the industry in the late 1940s, mentored by Roy Gerber and Norman Weiss. By the 1950s, he was representing some of the biggest R&B and rock acts of the era, including Fats Domino and Chuck Berry for Shaw Artists.
He also served as a tour manager for several artists, including jazz legends Woody Shaw and Woody Herman.
In 1956, he joined Universal Attractions where he helped to develop a European touring market for American jazz and R&B, creating opportunities for black artists who still faced segregation in the U.S.
Several years later, Alen partnered with Jack Bart to purchase Universal Attractions and became the signing agent for Solomon Burke, Joe Tex, Johnny Taylor and many other top R&B performers of that era.
He also opened doors for up-and-coming British bands such as the Rolling Stones, when he agreed to let them open for Chuck Berry, and for The Beatles when they opened for his client Little Richard.
Following a brief stint at CMA, Alen joined William Morris in 1971, moving up the ranks at the agency until he was named worldwide Head of Music and later Senior Vice President.
During his tenure at the storied agency, he helped to launch the WMA’s London office and helped the agency to further expand into country and Christian music with signing such as The Oakridge Boys, Charlie Rich, and Hank Williams Jr.
In 2010, he announced that after 39 years at the agency, he had decided to retire.
“I have been fortunate to have had an extraordinary front row seat during my 60 years in entertainment. I’ve had the privilege of representing the greatest performers of the music world and to be part of several historic moments during the course of my career,” commented Alen at the time. “It’s been a wonderful journey, I look forward to the next chapter.”