Bohlander and Weiner, after working in Los Angeles at International Famous Agency, decided in 1970 to open their own shop in the relative backwater of Carmel, Calif. They defied the odds to create a powerhouse agency that thrived until its sale to Paradigm in 2004, giving the latter a foothold in music that paid off with an Agency of the Year award that evening.
Festivities opened with video commentary and congratulations from clients and colleagues including Huey Lewis, Gregg Perloff, Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, Ron Delsener, Leo Kottke, Paul Goldman and inaugural Pollstar Honors winner Barbara “Mother” Hubbard – who reminded them that she had seniority.
AEG Live Rocky Mountains President Chuck Morris introduced Bohlander with a story about booking The Doobie Brothers in his first nightclub, Tulagi in Boulder, Colo. The band was yet relatively unknown but on the verge of releasing its breakthrough album, Toulouse Street, and smash single “Listen to the Music.”
“The thing I loved about Fred is that he had great taste. He treated everyone the same – he was calm, caring and deliberate. I only had two fights with Fred in 46 years – and I grew up with Barry Fey and Irving Azoff. Fred is scarier. He is so calm and it scared the hell out of me.”
Bohlander recalled the first Pollstar Awards, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. “It was really quite small for this vast venue that the Music Hall is. It's amazing to see the growth in the concert industry when you see what Pollstar has accomplished year in and out.
“I have had the pleasure to share it with Dan Weiner who has been my best friend and partner for 45 years, along with our wives, staff, artists, mangers, and clients past and present. Without them it would not have happened. I am proud.
“I can truly say it is one of the best opportunities young people can have if they strive for perfection.” Longtime Doobie Brothers manager Bruce Cohn introduced Weiner. “The first Doobie Brothers record didn't do very well. It sold about 8,000 records and was in the recycle bin at Tower Records by the time we got off our tour. In 1971, we were ready to release Toulouse Street and needed an agent. I was calling agents. … Jerry Heller drove me to his house in the canyon -- the, only guy I had met who could snort blow while driving Laurel Canyon with no hands.
“But we had a hit with ‘Listen to the Music.’ Phil Casey gave us a Three Dog Night tour – three shows for 20 minutes. Agents came down and saw the show in Phoenix. We did the 20 minute set, got a standing ovation, an encore. All these agents were at the table vying for the bnad now. They’re cutting each other apart. “Danny said, ‘Come see me in LA. We'll talk.’ I met his wife, Ellen. I knocked on the door and his 1-year-old son crawled to the door and barked like a dog. I knew this was the man for me. We’ve booked thousands of shows and the Doobies had their most successful tour last year. Dan has been best man at all three of my weddings. Congratulations. You deserve this.”
Weiner acknowledged Barbara Hubbard and opened with the story of “Spaghetti Fred Bohlander.”
“Fred and I worked for IFA; me in New York and him in Chicago. There was a meeting in New York and the agency at the time was a motley crew. Fred came into the room and all of a sudden here was the best dressed man. He had the biggest smile and the best jacket. He wore saddle shoes. I was dressed like this (pointing out his sweater and jeans).
”Subconsciously, Ellen and I and Fred became instant friends and partners. I remember we were immediately together once he moved (to L.A.). “We were together for a few years at IFA. Howard Kaufman suggested we go out on our own. ‘Now is the time’ is how things happen. Another year went by, and it again came up. ‘Now is the time.’ We decided we were going to go. We decided either Santa Barbara, Monterey or Carmel. Fred found the office before he found his house. “He was sent because he looked the most normal of the two of us. We had this tiny little house for an office. The landlord decided to raise the rent $25 and were indignant. We got a realtor and found a house that Ellen and I lived in for 37 years.
“There were always these moments – ‘Now is the time.” We were happy with the small office, the small group. We kept getting these nagging calls from this young agent in Minnesota named Chip Hooper. Fred said, ‘Now is the time.’ That's how Chip came into our life. And he's still in our life.
“Things went well and we'd been independent 37 years when one day Chip called and said somebody wants to acquire us. ‘What’s his name?’ we asked. “Sam Gores.”
“Who?” We met and fell lin love with him.” Sam Gores, president and CEO of Paradigm, made the deal and Paradigm acquired Monterey Peninsula Artists in 2004. “But of all the things that happened, the most amazing thing is that we don’t have last names – we’re still Fred and Dan.”