Andrew Miller: Concert promoter and lauded fund-raiser

 

Nobody buys a concert ticket because of the name of the promoter at the top of the poster or on the ticket. Yet when something goes wrong on a tour or at an outdoor event the promoter often gets the blame – from the paying public, the media and the artists themselves. That this hardly ever happened to the British concert promoter Andrew Miller, during his four decades of putting on the likes of Barry Manilow, Meat Loaf and Nana Mouskouri, is testament to his organisational and personal qualities.

Held in high regard by his business peers and his long-standing clients, Miller was also greatly admired for his charity work on behalf of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy. This began in January 1976 when he was approached by Lady Mary Bradford to help support the treatment and therapy programmes developed by Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins to improve the quality of life of disabled and sick people of all ages through music.

Drawing on his considerable list of contacts, Miller convened a fund-raising committee which included musicians, managers, a Moët & Chandon executive and Willie Robertson, the insurance broker who had pioneered the introduction of insurance cover for performers and who became a lifelong friend. Miller and Robertson proved a formidable partnership, which continued until Robertson's death last year and established Nordoff-Robbins as the premier charity supported by the British music industry to this day.

In June 1976, the committee held its first Silver Clef Award luncheon,honouring The Who and giving theailing Nordoff a platform to publicise his work a few months before his death. The proceeds wiped out the Music Therapy Charity's overdraft and the event became a regular fixture in the music calendar.

However, Miller had bigger plans. He wanted to put Nordoff Robbins on a firmer financial footing and help the charity open its own therapy centre in London. He also intended to give the music industry the opportunity to build a BRIT School for the Performing Arts in Croydon. To raise the necessary funds, in 1990 he staged Knebworth '90 at the Hertfordshire country house where Pink Floyd and Genesis had held landmark concerts. Both returned to join a line-up that included Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Dire Straits, Status Quo and Tears For Fears, all previous recipients of the Nordoff Robbins Silver Clef Award.

The British stars performed for free in front of 120,000 fans and millions watching around the world on MTV. A live album and video helped the £1million profit from the day grow six-fold in as many months and enabled both projects to go ahead. The three years Miller spent planning Knebworth '90 alongside his day-to-day concert promotions activities had been worthwhile. Katie Melua, Adele, Imogen Heap and Jessie J, all BRIT school alumni, are undoubtedly indebted to him for their training.

Born in 1946 to GP parents, Miller was the second child of five. After completing his education at Shrewsbury School, he moved to Texas and worked there during the late 1960s. The threat of the Vietnam draft brought him back to Britain, where he joined the International Entertainment agency and met his second wife, Anna, another recently recruited employee.

In 1975 he launched Andrew Miller Promotions and never looked back as he promoted tours by Mike Oldfield, Gallagher and Lyle, Supertramp, Twiggy and Joan Armatrading. In 1976, he showed his customary dedication and commitment to the job when he called on Armatrading, on the day she headlined the Royal Albert Hall, between his wedding reception and his departure on honeymoon, with Anna still in her wedding dress.

A gentleman operating in what can be a cut-throat world, Miller often did business on a handshake, as in the case of Manilow, who he promoted for over three decades in partnership with Danny Betesh, the MD of Kennedy Street Enterprises, until the Inland Revenue insisted they formalise the relationship. In 1983 Miller staged a memorable Manilow concert attended by 50,000 at Blenheim Palace, stately home of the Duke of Marlborough, and returned there with Van Morrison and Armatrading in 2004 and Rod Stewart and Diana Ross in 2005.

He also oversaw the opening of music therapy units in Croydon and Newbury, as well as services in the North and South West of England, and he inspired other countries to develop their own facilities. In 1994, Miller and Robertson received the Music Industry Trust Award.

"Andrew and I worked together for over three decades," Betesh said. "I first met him when he sold me a Barry White show at the old Belle Vue in Manchester in the '70s. He became a lifelong friend. He was a very, very good man, very principled and good-hearted. The huge amounts of money he raised for Nordoff Robbins was a wonderful thing, a terrific legacy."

Andrew Robert Cameron Miller, concert promoter and fund-raiser: born Shrewsbury 12 July 1946; twice married (two daughters); died London 16 February 2012.

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