From market trader to movie maker: Laurence Myers, the man who signed the rock’n’roll superstars

He once represented the likes of David Bowie and Mick Jagger, and his new book reveals what it was like to be a Sixties mover and shaker. But he is also the brains behind the new Judy Garland biopic. David Lister catches up with him

Saturday 05 October 2019 22:40 BST
Myers: ever the man of ideas
Myers: ever the man of ideas (Lucy Levene)

It’s a mystery that Laurence Myers isn’t a household name. You’d think that the man who signed David Bowie (and owned the Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust albums) would have a revered and publicly acknowledged place in music history. And Bowie’s success is only one notch in his gun. This guy also looked after The Rolling Stones. He was the fixer who the legendary (not always in a good way) Allen Klein sent in to The Beatles’ Apple corps to sort out the mess. He was the man who sat open-mouthed while the legendary (definitely not in a good way) Sixties pop promoter Don Arden threatened to throw him out of the window.

He was one of the few who hit it off with Elvis’s forbidding manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The reason: both Myers and the colonel had started their careers as market grafters.

Perhaps most importantly he was the man who was instrumental in forcing record companies to change the appallingly Draconian contracts they tied their stars to (a pop single sold for six shillings and eight pence in old money, the record company made 14 pence profit, and to take one notable example, The Beatles received one old penny per single sold – shared between the four of them). Myers was also was behind a landmark court case that stopped music publishers exploiting artists. Elton John was one of many who benefited from that.

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