Gary Farrow: My Life In Media
'An embarrassing moment? When Take That split I said that Robbie Williams would never be a star'
Monday 28 November 2005
Gary Farrow is one of Britain's best-known entertainment business PRs, with a client list that includes Sir Elton John, Gordon Ramsay, Jeremy Clarkson and Sharon Osbourne. He started out working in a record shop before joining EMI and becoming a media manager for Wham!, Blondie and Duran Duran. He is a consummate media networker and lives in south London with his wife, 'The Sun' columnist and broadcaster Jane Moore and their three daughters.
What inspired you to embark on a career in the media?
I was always interested in television, radio, newspapers and art. Having attended St Martin's College of Art and working at One Stop Records from the age of 15 it was only a matter to time before one of those professions got saddled with me.
When you were 15, which newspaper did your family get and did you read it?
News of the World, Sketch and The Times were always firm accessories, coupled with the Kentish Times, just to find out whose house had been burgled.
What were your favourite TV and radio programmes?
On Sundays the radio always stayed on throughout the day. We sampled the delights of Round the Horne, switching off just after the charts and before Sing Something Simple. On the TV front: The Persuaders, Dad's Army, On the Buses, World in Action, The Frost Report, The Man from Uncle, Ready Steady Go!.
Describe your job
To provide 24-hour conduit with the media for PR, media and communications. Advice and expertise for an ever expanding stable of artists, executives and corporate clients.
What media do you turn to first thing in the morning?
Sky News, radio, TV, BBC website, newspapers and then the numerous cuttings services and the London Evening Standard.
What is the best thing about your job?
You remain your own boss so therefore set your own agenda. I usually work a six-day week and most nights. I am continuously mindful never to suffer with complacency.
And the worst?
I have a 20-month-old daughter whom I don't see as often as I wish I could. Luckily I have a wife in the media who understands long hours and is very supportive regarding business dinners and events.
How do you feel you influence the media?
I am lucky enough to have a cutting-edge stable of superstar artists, executives and companies. We provide a professional stream of information between both (media and showbusiness) parties, thus serving both parties at all times.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
When Take That split I said that Robbie Williams would never be a star. The other embarrassing moment was a collision of heads -mine and Mel Gibson's - on the stairs of Legends Club. This resulted in me saying "What a silly place to put a mirror" and him saying "Fuck off, that isn't funny!".
What is the proudest achievement of your working life?
Having a 33-year working relationship (professional and personal) with Elton John and nearly 14 years with Jonathan Ross, from the mid-1980s at the birth of The Last Resort.
At home, what do you tune in to?
Radio 2, Radio 4, Virgin and LBC. Occasionally, Start of the Week - I am a channel switcher. BBC, Sky, ITN.
What is your Sunday newspaper and do you have a favourite magazine?
I subscribe to all, and mean all, Sunday newspapers. I need them for my job. Our paperboy does two rounds - one to my house and one to the rest of Wandsworth, but I always go for the News of the World first and then take The Sunday Times to the khazi. Favourite magazines are GQ and Vanity Fair.
Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire
I had always wanted to go to Harvard Business School and do a media/business degree. That will become a reality next year when I do the course which my wife bought me for my birthday this year.
If you didn't work in media, what would you do?
Although I trained as a commercial artist, I would probably have gone into advertising as a copywriter or into law, as anyone who knows me knows I am strong willed and hate losing.
Who in media do you most admire and why?
To stay at the top of your game within any of the genres in media is difficult, so I have respect for editors, producers and programme planners alike. On the PR front, I worked in the 1970s with and admired the late Leslie Perrin, who was incredible. I also have great respect for Will Whitehorn who heads up the media and communications division for Richard Branson's empire. Finally, Sir David Frost, whom I have had the pleasure of working with on a number of occasions and count as a friend, and whose body of work speaks for itself.
1973 Works at One Stop Records, "the hippest record shop in London at the time".
1974 Gets job as a runner at Rocket Records, after driving Elton John mad for a job.
1976 Joins EMI Records, where he works with Mickie Most.
1980 Starts Gary Farrow Enterprises Media Management company and works with Elton John, George Michael, David Bowie, Paul Young, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Bob Geldof. Also manages Jonathan Ross and Paula Yates.
1995 Becomes vice president communications for Sony Music Entertainment.
2005 forms his own company, The Corporation Group, with clients including Sir Elton, Sharon Osbourne, Gordon Ramsay and Jeremy Clarkson.
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