The heavy guide to getting ahead in music: scholarship named after Led Zeppelin's legendary manager
Adam Sherwin is Media Correspondent at The Independent and an award-winning writer who specialises in covering the entertainment, broadcasting, music and popular culture industries. Previously Media writer and diarist at The Times, he was a co-founder of the Beehive City media and entertainment website. As regular contributor to BBC London 94.9 Radio station, he was named Music Business writer of the year at the awards of influential music industry site Record of the Day in 2006.
Friday 11 May 2012
To those who dared to stand in his way, Peter Grant, the legendary manager of Led Zeppelin, conducted his business with a mixture of verbal aggression, physical intimidation and judicious use of a baseball bat.
Now the next generation of managers can study Grant's "hands-on" technique when a business degree course is launched in honour of the man who struck fear into the hearts of any promoter who tried to rip off his charges.
A 300lb, 6ft 5in former bouncer and professional wrestler, the bearded giant is credited with turning Led Zeppelin into rock's biggest attraction in the Seventies. Grant's exploits, whether facing down gun-toting promoters, beating up security guards or smashing up bootleggers' tapes with his trusty bat, ensured his place in rock mythology alongside the notoriously hell-raising Zeppelin.
Despite his violent reputation, the south Londoner, who died from a heart attack in 1995 at 60, and was by then a diabetic cocaine addict, earned the eternal gratitude of the bands he managed.
He secured Zeppelin the most lucrative record deal then signed by a band and guaranteed Robert Plant's rockers an unheard of 90 per cent of concert ticket receipts after, literally, twisting the arms of often mafia-connected promoters. Grant enhanced the band's mystique and earning power by refusing to let them release singles or appear on television.
Posthumous recognition of his achievements arrives in September with the launch of the Peter Grant Memorial Scholarship, which will cover £16,000 of course fees for a new BA (Hons) degree in music management offered by the Bristol Institute of Modern Music. Grant's daughter, Helen Grant, said: "My father would have been both touched and honoured that this scholarship has been created in his name.
"He was a great inspiration to many people in the business; not only on the management front, but also in the way he looked after his artists – in his own, infamous way. A charismatic personality coupled with great humour means he is never far away. This is a long overdue accolade."
The degree will include modules on "live-event management", "working with musicians" and how to deal with rapacious record companies.
Peter Grant: Hits and myths
* Grant took umbrage when a security guard manhandled his 11 year-old son backstage at a Led Zeppelin show in Oakland, California. Grant and drummer John Bonham took the guard into a trailer and viciously beat him. The band ordered the promoter, Bill Graham, to sign a document absolving them of guilt. Grant was arrested at the band's hotel and settled a civil case out of court for an undisclosed sum.
* After "the boys" trashed a Seattle hotel room, Grant performed the ritual of paying for the damage in cash. The hotel manager said: "I'd love to be able to do that – just wreck a hotel room and get away with it." Grant took out $5,000 in dollar bills and said: "Here, have one on me." The manager smashed up the room of his choice.
* A promoter tried to rip off the legendary rock'n'roller Little Richard, which was a mistake. Grant savagely beat the promoter backstage until police arrived, then meted out similar treatment to the six officers sent to restrain him.
* When a Zeppelin gig in Memphis in 1970 threatened to turn into a riot, the promoter stuck a gun in Grant's ribs, ordering him to stop the show. Grant laughed and said: "You can't shoot me, ya c***. They've just given us the f***ing keys to the city." The band completed their set.
* When Led Zep played at the Knebworth festival in 1979, the promoter claimed only 104,000 ticket-holders were in the audience. Grant disputed the low figure using aerial pictures of taken from a helicopter. He sent the images to a monitoring laboratory in New York, which confirmed that 218,000 people attended. The row forced the promoter into liquidation.
* Grant would seek out bootleggers at shows, assaulting any he found making illicit recordings and smashing their tape recorders. An "undercover" visit to a record store resulted in a broken arm for the owner after he produced unlicensed Led Zeppelin records.
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