Hal Carter

Manager and agent for Sixties and Seventies musicians
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The Independent Online

Hal Carter in 1968 established the very successful entertainment agency Hal Carter Organisation, concentrating on Sixties and Seventies music. Surprisingly for a manager and agent, he was much loved by his artists and offered guidance on every aspect of their work - choosing songs, producing records, determining promotion and, most of all, arranging tours.

Harold Carter Burrows (Hal Carter), manager and agent: born Liverpool 13 July 1935; married (one son, two daughters); died London 13 July 2004.

Hal Carter in 1968 established the very successful entertainment agency Hal Carter Organisation, concentrating on Sixties and Seventies music. Surprisingly for a manager and agent, he was much loved by his artists and offered guidance on every aspect of their work - choosing songs, producing records, determining promotion and, most of all, arranging tours.

Born Harold Carter Burrows in 1935, he was raised in the tough Scotland Road locality in Liverpool. He worked as a foreman for the chemical company Union Carbide but in his spare time organised local rock'n'roll shows. In 1958 he attempted to place one of his acts on a Marty Wilde tour, which had come to the Liverpool Empire. Wilde's manager, Larry Parnes, showed no interest but he was impressed at the way Carter smuggled Wilde into the theatre to avoid screaming fans. "Parnes gave me ten bob [50p] for my trouble," Carter recalled,

and that should have set off alarm bells because he was a very mean man, but it was show business. Two weeks later he asked me if I would work for him at £10 a week. I was earning £18 at Union Carbide but I said yes and went to London.

During 1959 Carter worked on the road as Marty Wilde's personal manager and then was moved to Parnes's new protégé, Billy Fury, who was also from Liverpool. Fury had a damaged heart following rheumatic fever as a child, but he took little care of himself, smoking heavily, exerting himself on stage and spending his spare time in wet fields watching wildlife.

Parnes realised that UK rock'n'roll fans wanted to see the real thing and he signed Eddie Cochran (whose star was on the rise) and Gene Vincent (a Grade A troublemaker who had union problems in the United States) for an extensive tour with Carter as tour manager. Cochran, who came from California, hated the British weather, but he befriended Carter and asked him to leave Parnes and become his manager in the US.

Carter's relationship with Gene Vincent was very different. At first Vincent's demands were just ridiculous - how could Carter find him a pizza in North Wales at 11pm in 1960? - but he soon discovered why Vincent was bad news in America:

Gene Vincent used to carry a gun and a knife around with him, which he called Henry. He would say to people, "Do you want to meet Henry?" and he would pull out his knife. He had a street-gang mentality and he terrorised the tour bus one night coming back from Ipswich. He ripped the bass player's suit and five of us jumped off at the lights in Romford, even though we lived in north London.

Larry Parnes took Carter off the tour on the last night because he needed him for a recording of the television programme Wham! The package played in Bristol and Eddie Cochran was killed in a car accident on his return to London. "That accident would never have happened if I'd been there," Carter claimed:

They wanted to get back to London quickly and so they didn't want to use the tour bus. A taxi driver quoted them £30 and they thought it was a bit steep. Someone borrowed his mate's car and said that he would take them. He had no insurance and he took a wrong turning just before the bridge at Chippenham. He was heading back to Bristol when the accident occurred.

Carter continued to work on Larry Parnes's extravaganzas and on one occasion sacked Georgie Fame, one of the supporting acts, for defying him by playing jazz on a rock'n'roll show.

In 1962 Hal Carter persuaded Oriole Records to let him make a single, "Twistin' Time is Here" and "Come On and Twist". He was listed as the sole composer for "Come On and Twist" and, when asked how he came to write the music when he did not play an instrument, he replied, "It wasn't difficult. Eddie Cochran had shown me a couple of chords."

Carter himself left Parnes in 1963. Parnes was furious, refusing to sanction a record that Billy Fury had made of one of Carter's songs, "Please Love Me". He worked as the road manager for the Kinks before establishing his own company in 1968, which soon became known as the Hal Carter Organisation. He went on to manage and produce the band Liverpool Express, who had hits with "You are My Love" and "Every Man Must Have a Dream", both in 1976. He also produced a Top Ten single for Coast to Coast, "(Do) The Hucklebuck" (1981).

In 1982 he persuaded Billy Fury to leave his farm and return to public performance. Some say that the strain of the comeback killed him but Carter denied this. "If Billy were here now," he said,

he would tell you that he lived 15 years longer than he expected. He was always saying, "If I make 30, I'll be delighted", and that's why he drove fast cars and did everything at top whack. His life was going to be short, but it was going to be great: that was his mentality.

In later years Carter acted for Marty Wilde, Eden Kane and John Leyton and also set up touring versions of well-known bands with rather suspect line-ups including the Tornados, the Equals, Middle of the Road and the New Seekers. Carter was made for tribute bands and he managed Rumours of Fleetwood Mac, T.Rextasy and his particular favourites, the Illegal Eagles.

Spencer Leigh



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