In light of the surprising news over the reasons Beyonce fired her longtime manager (and longtime father for that matter) Mathew Knowles, we remembered a time when scummy managers were not only the norm, but expected. Here are the Top 10 Managers in Music History Who Fucked Over Their Clients With a Coke and a Smile:
10. Colonel Tom Parker (aka Andreas Cornelis “Dries” van Kuijk)
There’s not much that wasn’t misleading about Parker, considering he was neither an American nor a Colonel. But the fact is, he was raking in 50 percent of Elvis’ earnings towards the end of his career. Sure, he helped The King’s career, but 50 percent??
9. Tim Collins
During Aerosmith’s huge comeback in the late ’80s, Collins was at the helm, making sure things were running smooth, or so they thought. Turns out that he was advancing the notion that some members had relapsed into drug abuse when they insisted they had not. By trying to play them against each other, Collins lost his big gig. (Collins and the band eventually kissed and made up, a rare happy ending.)
8. Mathew Knowles
As we mentioned, Knowles stole money from his moneymaking daughter. Not only is he fucked business-wise, but it should be interesting how those Thanksgiving dinners are with his son-in-law’s willingness to do anything for his boo. Mathew better watch his ass, or at least worry about being banished to the kiddie table.
7. Frank Weber
Continuing with the theme of “don’t let your family fuck with your business,” Billy Joel also committed this cardinal sin. In 1989, the Piano Man sued Weber, his former brother in-law, for squandering or illegally taking $30 million of Joel’s money. He also sued for a warranted $60 million in punitive damages. The fact that Weber was Joel’s one-time close friend and the Godfather of his daughter gives new emphasis to the adage, “NEVER MIX BUSINESS AND PLEASURE.”
6. Albert Grossman
The iconic folk manager strong armed many in his day, but his sin was enraging his cash cow, Bob Dylan, who eventually wrote two scathing songs about him (figure out which they were and you get a prize). Grossman took an astonishing 25 percent (when the industry norm was 15), which managed to piss off his biggest client to the point of writing several songs about how pissed off he was about his situation. His other clients included Todd Rundgren, Peter, Paul and Mary, John Lee Hooker, Phil Ochs, Gordon Lightfoot, Richie Havens, The Band and Janis Joplin. But again, anytime you piss off Bob Dylan, you make this list.
5. Sean Combs (or whatever the fuck he’s calling himself this week)
Yes, Virginia, there is a Bad Boy Curse. Initiated by Sean “Puffy/Diddy” Combs, this curse steals the souls, dreams, and careers of those who dare break their sweaty backs to sign their lives away to fuel his lavish lifestyle. Seen Black Rob lately? Remember Shyne? #NeverForget
4. Rob Gretton
When you manage the band with the (at the time) best-selling single in the history of the UK and MANAGE TO LOSE MONEY, then you make this list. But New Order and their manager, ex-club DJ Gretton, did just that. As management pretty much consists of keeping the talent alive and not losing all their money, the late Gretton didn’t score too well. All while under his “watch,” Ian Curtis killed himself right before an American tour that would have pushed the band into even bigger profit margins. It may have been a fun ride, but Gretton “encouraged” New Order into “investing,” or better put, subsidizing, the cost of Manchester’s legendary Haçienda club for the Mancunian. After what seemed like forever the club took off, becoming popular enough to attract criminals and drug dealers and notoriety and frequent closures by local authorities. In the words of Dewey Cox, “Hey, at least he enjoyed the ride.”
3. Steve Leber and David Krebs
You would have thought that Aerosmith would have learned their collective lessons the first go-round. Nope. For the impressive work Leber and Krebs did over the years in breaking artists like Aerosmith, AC/DC, and Joan Jett, among others, they managed to pillage from their artists by taking all of their publishing. Definition of scumbag or shrewd, depending on how you look at it, but either way, they took a ton of money that was entitled to their artists. Not cool. (Writers note, Krebs sued Aerosmith after their Behind The Music for alleging the band tarnished his reputation)
2. Allen Klein
Though he did have one of our favorite quotes about hating The Eagles (always a plus), he also ripped off artists including The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, no small feat. Mick Jagger famously warned John Lennon to be wary of Klein, with good reason. The Stones decided to fire Klein and set up their own business structure in 1970. Klein sued, and the legal settlement meant giving Klein the rights to most of their songs recorded before 1971. Ay caramba. Though he did get The Beatles the highest royalty rate at that point, Klein also managed to alienate many of the people who had previously been part of the Beatles’s business and personal circle with his abrasive style of management and negotiation. He managed to piss off and lose the trust of the affable (at least publicly) Paul McCartney to the point where the band managed to lose their publishing to ATV.
McCartney continued to distrust Klein, though admitting to him at one point “If you are screwing us, I don’t see how.” A backhanded compliment if we’ve ever seen one. Following their informal agreement to split in late 1969, McCartney sued the other three Beatles and Lennon called for “a divorce,” and the Beatles as a business unit came to an end. McCartney has stated he chose to legally dissolve the Beatles rather than allow Klein to milk and diminish their artistic legacy. For a lack of other words, McCartney thought he was a dick, and justifiably so.
Last, but not least …
1. Jerry Heller
Anytime you manage to piss off every member of N.W.A. except for Eazy-E and are threatened by the most dangerous band in the world for skimming money (which Heller denies), you are one crazy motherfucker and deserve to be on the top of this considering the brassballs it took to make this move.