"Our World Has Changed - Stop Hiding Under The
As a manager, one of the things all of my artists have in common
is that the minute their tour manager knocks on the dressing room
door and lets them know they’ve got 5 minutes before showtime,
they all go running for the toilet. I now know how they feel.
Not only are there over 1,200 of you here today, making this the
CIC’s most successful year ever – so congratulations
to the two Garys and everyone involved – but many of you are
people I have great respect for, so please forgive me if I’m
just a little nervous. Being
nervous is good though, because it shows I care about what I’m
When I was asked to give this keynote address I had to put some
thought as to what my motivation was to do it. Was it driven by
ego? Not always such a bad thing. After all, I am speaking in a
room, surrounded by some of the greatest egos in the world.
Having said that, many of you have earned your huge egos through
good work, and I am going to remind some of you of that, although
I doubt you have forgotten.
It would be obvious for me to talk about Sanctuary, but I am not
here to hype and I’ve always believed that people should recognize
us for what we have achieved rather than what we say we are going
to achieve. You may have had the opportunity to read about our 360
degree model, how our business is based on the artists first and
foremost, and our successes over the last five years come at a point
in time when our industry has been suffering.
Ultimately, the reason I agreed to do this is because I love music,
and its importance in every aspect of my life and who I am cannot
be denied. I believe this is also true of many of you, and once
again I am going to remind you of that as this is something you
may have forgotten.
During the course of this address, I am going to talk a little about
myself and my experiences but the purpose of telling you a little
of my tale is not so that you will know about me but rather that
you may be reminded and remember something about yourselves.
Parental advisory warning: I’ll occasionally use words like
“fuck.” I like it, it goes with the territory and, most
importantly, I can’t stop saying it.
I’ve spent most of the last 20 years of my life in England
with the last few in New York, but I actually grew up in a small
town in Nova Scotia – very pretty town of less than 2,000
people about three hours away from the nearest big town, and by
big town I mean 150,000 people.
In those late ’60s and early ’70s pre-Internet and pre-MTV
days, access to music – at least the music I wanted to hear
– was limited. The only radio station was a country &
western format and I am afraid my tastes were not yet sophisticated
enough to appreciate George Jones or Merle Haggard and my interest
in country & western did not stretch beyond Johnny Cash –
the man in black. I used to watch him on TV every Friday night and,
as those of you who know me know if nothing else, he had an influence
on my fashion sense.
In any case the radio station’s real purpose was to be the
Farmer’s Almanac. Every morning you could hear the DJ say,
“the sun is going to rise at 6 a.m. and set at 4:30 p.m.,
so you’ve got 10 and a half hours to get your crops in!”
One day a new family moved in next door, and they had a son who
was 16 or 17 and in an effort to meet some people – girls
– he set up his guitar and amplifier in the driveway and started
making noise. It did not take long to get my attention and I was
over there like a shot. He was playing along to Jethro Tull’s
“Aqualung” and had just bought the freshly released
new Neil Young album, Harvest. Despite our differences in age –
I was waiting on my ninth birthday – he indulged me and we
bonded over music and we listened to Harvest over and over again
and somehow, over the next few days, I managed to get that album
back to my house and I don’t think I ever really left my room
My education is limited to high school. I never really needed anything
more. Over the ensuing days, months and years I learned most of
what I needed to know about life, love, politics, morals, drugs,
money, and empathy from the University of Neil Young, University
of Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Curtis Mayfield, Patti Smith, Led Zeppelin,
Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, The Clash and all
of the great artists.
Heavy records like the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling
Stone,” Curtis’ “Freddie’s Dead,”
Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Thru the Grapevine,”
Elvis Presley’s “In The Ghetto,” The Velvet Underground’s
“Waiting for My Man” and Neil Young’s “Needle
and the Damage Done” or “Ohio” will teach you
a lot about life that you are lucky enough not to have to learn
from first-hand experience itself. As this is about music, it is
only appropriate that we play a little.
(Neil Young’s “Down By The River” is played.)
That was actually a miscue. They were going to play “Needle
And The Damage Done.” But “Down By the River”
means a lot to me as well. What I was going to say about “Needle
and the Damage Done,” and it’s true for “Down
By The River” as well, is that song means as much to me 32
years later as it did the first day I heard it and my life and the
lives of those around me have been affected by all of the great
records that have had an impact on me.
Not long after I discovered Harvest – and this is why I wanted
to play “Needle and the Damage Done” – I ended
up in bed for three or four weeks with a rare form of measles that
left me feverish and hallucinating for days at a time. As you can
imagine, Harvest and all the images it conjured played a big part
in those hallucinations and I can distinctly remember waking up
one morning having vivid and terrifying dreams about sticking needles
in my arm, convinced that the brown moles that dotted my arms were
By the way, you’ll be pleased to note that when I got better,
my parents rewarded me with a $10 bill that I happily spent on Traffic’s
Low Spark of High Heeled Boys and Led Zeppelin II, and my education
As a result of my aforementioned environment, other than word of
mouth my access to hearing music before I bought it was limited
to what the cover bands would play at the local high school which,
believe it or not, would send you searching for the originals or
more importantly reading about music and dreaming about what it
must sound like.
I would read an incredible review on a band I had never heard of
in the pages of Creem, Sounds, Melody Maker, Rolling Stone or NME
and then decide what to spend my money on out of pure instinct.
I would go to the department store and study the artwork on the
records for hours at a time.
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