Arts: Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Sir Elton John and his manager John Reid have been friends for years and suffered their fair share of rows. So why have they split up for good?

THE ANNOUNCEMENT yesterday that Sir Elton John had parted with long-time manager John Reid may have surprised most people but the writing was probably on the wall at the beginning of the year.

Back in January, disclosures of Sir Elton's lavish lifestyle and spiralling expenses made the Daily Mirror front page. Trainee solicitor and obsessive Elton aficionado Benjamin Pell had hacked into various computers connected to the singer's organisation. Pell had also sifted through dustbins outside the offices of John Reid Enterprises and obtained credit-card statements.

The tabloids had a field day, highlighting an occasion when Sir Elton had spent more than half a million pounds in 24 hours. Visits to jewellers, designer shops, florists and auction houses were all taking their toll on the superstar's finances. A warning letter from accountants Price Waterhouse to Sir Elton's management rang alarm bells. Despite an upcoming world tour, a sponsorship agreement with Citibank and a multimillion-dollar deal to write more Disney soundtracks, the singer was said to be eight weeks away from running out of cash. Sure, money was still rolling in, but with earnings from all his single releases going his AIDS foundation and the huge royalties from Candle In The Wind earmarked for the Diana Fund, he had to slow down the rate of his spending.

Reid, a long-time associate and confidant, probably read the singer the riot act to try to help him get his finances and his act in order. The pair had a tumultuous relationship over the years and even fought physically before kissing and making up. This time, however, there seemed to be no going back.

Coming from a working-class background in Paisley, Reid can be blunt at times. He studied to be a marine engineer and for a while, he performed with a folk group around his native Scotland. In 1969, when he was only 20, Reid moved to London to work for Ardmore-Beechwood, a music publishing firm which was part of EMI.

Keen and knowledgeable, Reid became UK manager for the American Tamla Motown label, then distributed by EMI. He would select releases for the British market and work on their promotion. His business acumen led him to pick "Tears Of A Clown", a 1967 Smokey Robinson and The Miracles album track, for single release. When the song reached number one in Britain, the American company followed suit and the US release sold more than a million copies in 1970.

Elton John, then a struggling performer but already a big soul fan and compulsive record collector, visited friend David Cocker at EMI. Reid's office was the next one along the corridor of EMI old's Manchester Square headquarters and all three would chat away about music for hours. Soon Reid and Elton became more than pure flatmates. Reid arranged for Elton to meet one of his idols, Stevie Wonder. Later, Reid accompanied Elton on his first American tour. Over the years, the singer had been advised and managed by the likes of Muff Winwood, song publisher Dick James (who was later sued by Elton for control over his publishing), Steve Brown and Ray Williams. In March 1971, the singer appointed Reid as his manager in place of the latter.

Within a year, the businessman formed John Reid Enterprises. As Elton took off around the world, he negotiated a huge American deal with MCA Records. for $8m dollars over five years. In 1973, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones before him, Elton decided to form his own record company: Rocket Records.

Reid was heavily involved, along with Elton associates, such as lyricist Bernie Taupin and producer Gus Dudgeon. The Rocket team helped mastermind the mid-1970s comeback of Neil Sedaka and gave Cliff Richard his first Top Ten hit in the US with "Devil Woman". However, the label's biggest success came in 1976 with "Don't Go Breaking My Heart", Elton's infectious duet with Kiki Dee. Other acts to appear on Rocket included Judie Tzuke and The Lambrettas, but rumoured link-ups with Queen and 10CC, which would have put the label on a stronger footing, never materialised.

Over the years, Reid has acted as manager and consultant for various artists including Queen, Kiki Dee, Simple Minds, Billy Connolly, Barry Humphries (and his Dame Edna alter-ego), George Michael and, until the end of last year, Riverdance star Michael Flatley. Yet, Reid never quite managed to establish a powerbase away from his main artist and major client.

Sometimes difficult, always neatly dressed, something of a gourmet, bon vivant and an amateur cook, "Reidy" (as his associates are allowed to call him) seemed to have overcome his drinking problem around the sale time as his charge fought his various addictions. Reid often defended Elton to the hilt. In 1974, he even served three weeks in jail after punching journalist David Wheeler in New Zealand. Reid has already earned a fortune put at a conservative $100m.

For Sir Elton, a possible way out of the financial mire and undoubtedly huge financial settlement coming Reid's way would be a stockmarket listing a la David Bowie. Investors could buy shares in him and profit from investing in a song catalogue which is reportedly worth more than pounds 100m. Lyricist Bernie Taupin will have his say on the matter.

hard men: managers with attitude

Don Arden

Over the years, represented The Small Faces, The Move, Black Sabbath and Electric Light Orchestra. Not averse to dangling rival managers from windows. The late and infamous Peter Grant, who oversaw the rise of Led Zeppelin, learned most of tricks from him.

Bill Curbishley

Helped The Who sort out their finances after they left Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert. Now looks after Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, as well as surviving members of The Who, Judas Priest and Curve.

Roger Davies

The Australian single-handedly resurrected the careers of Tina Turner and Joe Cocker. Now handles M-People and Janet Jackson in Europe.

Allan Klein

In the late 1960s, renegotiated deals for The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Was later sued by Paul McCartney over the break-up of Apple. Recently managed to secure for his ABCKO company the whole of the publishing of The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" after the band admitted to sampling an orchestral version of "The Last Time".

Rod Smallwood

Nicknamed small-wallet, the Iron Maiden manager has cornered the heavy metal market (Bruce Dickinson, Wasp, Helloween) but shows signs of diversifying with Catherine Wheel and Feline. Recently floated his Sanctuary company on the stockmarket.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

    £300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

    High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

    £70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

    Teaching Assistant

    £50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

    Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments