'I never wanted to be famous': Craig Logan on the Bros years
He quit Bros at 19 – and transformed himself into a music-industry mogul. Ian Burrell meets Craig Logan, reformed teen idol.
Craig Logan was in the spotlight at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas at the end of last year, squirming with barely disguised embarrassment. More than 20 years after entertaining thousands of screaming girls with the hit song "When Will I Be Famous?", he had the eyes of the crowd upon him, his name was being called on the PA system – and yet he craved the shadows. "It was a bit weird," he says. "I'm not crazy about that, I was a bit, like, oh-eugggh."
Logan is the reluctant pop star who has triumphed by working in the wings to become one of the most influential figures in the world music business. Up there on the stage at Caesar's that night was his old school friend, Matt Goss, the former frontman of Eighties starlets Bros, who has been reborn as a crooner, taking the Vegas strip by storm with a Rat Pack-style revue. They have had a strange relationship, Logan and Goss: they didn't speak for years, but have now made things up and Goss wanted his audience to know it by calling out the name of his former teenage bass player.
Now 42, Logan is far away from the shrieking, adoring fans that used to camp outside his front door. He is sitting under an awning at his French villa, looking out across his swimming pool at the distant medieval rooftops of Châteauneuf de Grasse, in the foothills of the Alps. These are not the trappings of the Bros back catalogue, but of Logan's subsequent career as a manager of such global artists as Sade, Pink and Tina Turner. He has just opened new offices on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, with a plan to transform the music industry. He played a key role in the success of Robbie Williams and is the former head of the RCA record label. His girlfriends have included Kim Appleby from the Eighties pop act Mel & Kim and, more recently, Dannii Minogue. But until now he has declined to give interviews, no doubt a little scarred by his experiences of teen stardom.
"I never, ever wanted to be famous, OK? Even though the title of the song said it all, that was never my intention. Whereas the other two guys, they really wanted to be famous. I always used to say it was like the two blond ones and the other one, and I was the other one. The scrutiny was too much and maybe I wasn't emotionally and mentally mature enough to deal with it at that age."
Logan turned his back on stardom at the age of 19, walking out of the band at the height of 'Brosmania' in a decision that turned out to be the making of him. It was 1988 and he was lying in bed at the Lister Hospital in west London, burnt out. Kim was at his side with her twin sister Mel, who was dying of cancer. He decided to take his life back. "Mel was the most incredible person and had undergone a lot of therapy. She was trying to make me laugh and I was thinking, 'I'm going to be all right because ... here's a girl who would give her left arm to run across a field again and just do normal things'. I turned to them both at that point and said, 'I'm leaving the band'."
But it wasn't a question of just walking away. Logan spent most of the ensuing months in the High Court, fighting for his future against those who were furious at him for having strangled a musical golden goose. "It was decided I wasn't due anything. I was young and naïve, but we'd sold three million albums and five million singles, done two tours and were selling merchandise like it was going out of fashion. At that time we were the biggest band in the UK – but they said I owed them money."
The teenager had six legal actions and won them all. The experience "taught me so much", he says. "I used to sit with [the lawyers] and go through the contracts every day. Suddenly I realised how an artist and a producer were paid and what deductions were taken out. That was probably the moment that opened the door for me onto the business side."
He looks back at the Bros years and realises this was his destiny. "Everyone takes their role don't they, within the band? I was probably the accountant. I agreed with the manager that I would come in once a month and sign the cheques and do all the petty cash. God knows what made me think of doing that but that's what I used to do. As much as I work in the rock'n'roll business, I have got an element of being very sensible."
Logan, with his slim build and understated dress sense, looks the antithesis of an ageing pop star. There's no ponytail or beer belly. No loud shirt or boastful tales of groupies and wrecked hotel rooms. He has the luxury lifestyle though, splitting his time between Provence, London and Los Angeles. "Ah, it's my pool guys," he says, as we are interrupted by workmen. His giant swimming pool has recently exploded out of its hole in the ground, but there was no wild partying involved, no Harley-Davidson motorcycle ridden into the deep end. Just a pressure build-up when the pool was being drained.
He speaks in an accent that contains a hint of rural burr from his upbringing in Camberley, Surrey, and a transatlantic vocabulary that makes him pronounce records as "recudds".
During downtime from the court cases, he attended the Royal College of Music, wearing a disguise to avoid adoring fans – 'Brosettes' – and paparazzi. "I went in a hat and glasses so no one would recognise me," he says. "I realised there wasn't much I could do with the bass guitar so I started a crash course of piano lessons every day."
The new knowledge enabled him to start song writing. He hunkered down in the studio and co-wrote three top 20 hits for Kim Appleby. At the age of 20, he took over her management, too. Within six years he was the international marketing manager for EMI, responsible for managing such artists as Paul McCartney and country star Garth Brooks. "They used to call me Mr Tina Turner because everything that happened with Tina happened through me," he says.
Artists responded to him, partly because of his past experiences. "I had the understanding of what it was like to go on tour, what it was like to have fame, to sit in a Norwegian hotel room and do 10 interviews one after the other, do TV shows and travel. I knew the perks of the job and also the pitfalls."
After three years with EMI, Logan became partners with legendary Australian music manager, Roger Davies, who had helped shape the careers of Janet Jackson, Olivia Newton-John, Cher, Tina Turner and then Pink, who Logan "brought into the fold". After that he joined Sony and became managing director of the RCA label in 2006, where he launched such acts as Newton Faulkner, The Hoosiers and Sandi Thom. Those that worked with Logan say he had a gift for working smoothly with the biggest stars, though he was less successful as an A&R man uncovering new talent. The Sony UK chairman Ged Doherty describes him as "one of the best artist managers in the world".
With the music business still struggling to interpret the new order created by technological revolution, the big record companies are an endangered species. Logan found himself having to lay off colleagues. "I spent a lot of my corporate life having to fire people, not because they were bad people but because that was what pressure the corporation put you under," he says regretfully. "When you are downsizing you are not putting any fewer records out; you have more product with less people and making people redundant is the most soul-destroying thing."
The music industry is "a relationship business", he repeatedly stresses. After Sony, he took a break to consider the future of this sector and he has come up with a simple conclusion. "The artist, the song and the fan – they are the only three things that are important."
Except – as he later concedes – it's more complicated than that. Unit sales of a song are no longer enough – artists and songwriters need to offer their material on multiple platforms: live performances, computer games, TV theme tunes, film soundtracks, advertising deals. The existing industry is not structured to cope well with this. "The challenge to major companies is knocking walls down between departments," argues Logan. "Financial models were built from years ago – on the sale of records, the sale of downloads. When you start introducing other areas of income, things fall between the cracks."
His part of the solution is Logan Media Entertainment, a venture based on an alliance of managers but also
including a publishing arm and live production business. Under the same umbrella is the Boutique Music Company, which will represent a portfolio of talented songwriters. Logan is developing a team-based American television format and is working with Lamont Dozier on a musical which clearly has the potential to be a Motown equivalent of recent hit shows such as Jersey Boys and The Rat Pack. "We met and connected immediately. I have such huge admiration for someone like that," says Logan.
He says there is no other music company straddling London and LA in the same way as LME will do. It sounds as if he is risking another burn-out. "I naturally push myself to the limit," he says. "The difference [in Bros] was that somebody else was the puppet-master and I was dangling on the end of the string."
Logan has been involved in music since he first picked up a guitar, aged 10. His parents later bought him a bass guitar and he started playing in a school band called Stillbrook. One night, two blond-haired schoolmates – twins Matt and Luke Goss – knocked at his door and told him they were splitting from their band Blue, suggesting that he joined them. "I said, 'So we do bass, drums and vocals and we're going to write songs like that?'. And they said, 'Yeah!'."
He refers to Bros now as "my crazy little, funny little pop band". Still, while most of the American superstars he works with have never heard of what was once a British cultural phenomenon, Logan also says of his days as an artist that he does not "regret it for a millisecond". That includes the recollection of playing Wembley in 1988 and spotting Eric Clapton in the front of the audience with his family. "I remember thinking, 'God, he's going to think I'm shit'. It was enough to give me the heebie-jeebies." A framed photograph on the wall of his villa shows him in silhouette on stage with Bros, although he has chosen an arty shot that makes him barely recognisable. "It's the only one I put up because no one can tell who it is."
Logan makes reference to Bros's former manager as "the infamous Tom Watkins" – the pop Svengali who later managed the Pet Shop Boys – but he bears no ill will to the twins and is generous in his praise of Matt. "I mean, the guy's got a great voice, he really has. He does some of his own songs, a bit of Sinatra, a bit of Stevie Wonder. He looks like a star and fair play to him," he says. "I haven't seen Luke [now an actor] for a long time but they have both dug deep and built careers for themselves." Before that show at Caesar's Palace, Logan hung out in the dressing room and accompanied his old band mate on the walk down to the stage, a ritual he has performed with some of the world's greatest performing stars.
He spends as much time as he can with his parents – a hotelier and a travel agent – and is especially close to his brother, who uses a wheelchair (although Logan doesn't mention this). True, at the back of his home is a bar with a full range of optics and bottles of Logan's whisky that appeal to his "I'm 200 per cent Scottish" sense of heritage. There is a brash Union Jack armchair and a life-size cut-out of Dean Martin and some framed pictures of Sinatra. But Logan, who always wanted "to be behind the scenes" prefers wine to spirits and spends much of his time in this bar playing with a giant chess set. It suits someone who is always planning his next move. "I'm single and I don't have any kids. I'm 42. And, you know what? I have had a great life and I'm really happy."
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