CV: BARBARA CHARONE director of press, WEA Records

Some nights you just want to go home after work, rather than see a band you don't love. But then you meet an unknown who 18 months later is a star

I was born and grew up in Chicago, and I went to Northwestern University. I first came to England on a family trip to Europe, just after my first year at university, and I loved it: I remember seeing The Who on Top of the Pops, and thinking "What a great country."

When I went back to university, I started to write about pop music for the Chicago Sun-Times. I had always used to write: I had a column in my high-school newspaper, and in my junior-high paper. Then I came back to England on a university exchange programme, taking classes at the V&A, and being taught creative writing by the film critic of Time Out. And I started writing for the NME on a freelance basis.

After a year I went back to the States to finish university, and graduated, in English, in 1974. By then I was freelancing for Rolling Stone, on which the first thing I did was a review of a James Taylor concert, when he was just starting out. Then I had some smallish features, and, eventually, a cover story on Rod Stewart.

I moved to England for good in the autumn of 1974, and started writing for a now defunct music paper called Sounds. Over the next three and a half years, I became a staff writer, then features editor, then deputy editor. I was interviewing people like The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and The Who - all people whose records I had in my collection, so it was pretty exciting.

Then, I really wanted to write a book, and I did Keith Richards' authorised biography - so I spent three years hanging around with The Rolling Stones. The book came out in 1979 but, having written it, I didn't really want to go back to just being a music critic. I carried on freelancing for about 18 months, before ending up joining WEA, where a friend of mine ran the press office, in 1981.

In the beginning, I was just a staff writer in the press office, writing the bios and the news stories. But, after two and a half years of that, someone left, and I started as a press officer. And I loved it: mainly because it just suited my personality - I'm a bit of a magazine and newspaper junkie - and also because this label is very diverse. We've got everyone from REM to The Pretenders, Seal to Enya, and Madonna; I used to ring people up about her in the early Eighties and say: "She's gonna be big." I went on to be press manager, head of press and, finally, director of press, and I ended up representing a lot of the people that I had initially written about, like Rod Stewart and Eric Clapton.

The job changes constantly. You have to be very well organised, and know the papers. If you ring a paper up and ask them if they'd like to do a live review, and they don't do live reviews, then that means you don't read the paper, which is just the biggest insult. And I'm a big believer in being honest, and not holding people to ransom. There's this fallacy that you can ring a journalist up and say, "I'll give you REM if you do this unknown group."

I think the British press gets a lot of stick, and not always deservedly so. I'm a big fan of the broadsheets, and the tabloids, for certain artists, are great, though you find yourself keeping the really big artists out of the papers to a degree. The skill with a big, known act is to tell them what they should do to either raise their profile or promote a certain project. But you're representing these people all the time, not just when they're touring or have a new record out, and you're always getting phone calls asking things like, "Is Madonna moving to London?" or "Is Rod Stewart buying a football club?" It's a matter of deciding what to react to.

It's a fantastic job. Sure, there are managers who sometimes drive you to distraction, and some nights you just want to go home after work, rather than go and see a band you don't love. But it's tremendously rewarding, especially when you're working on a new act - meeting an unknown in the office one day who 18 months later is a huge star. We had that with Seal, and now we're seeing new young artists such as Shola Ama and Mark Morrison have great success here and abroad.

Having previously been a journalist, it's been like having two careers. I'm sure it would have been very boring just to have done the "must have lunch, darling", Ab Fab kind of PR. And having been a journalist also gives you a big advantage in that you understand what goes into interviewing - and also that there's no way anyone's ever going to love everything that's written about them.

Interview by Scott Hughes

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Creative Director / Head of Creative

£65K - £75K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Creative Director...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager

£40 - 48k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Manager to join...

Guru Careers: PR Account Manager / AM

£20-30K(DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a PR Account M...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Account Executive

Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: One of the UK’s largest and most s...

Day In a Page

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

Gossip girl comes of age

Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

Goat cuisine

It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
14 best coat hooks

Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?