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Legendary agent Dick Alen passes aged 89

Dick Alen, a legendary agent who spent 39 years at what was formerly WME, has passed of natural causes aged 89 according to Variety.

Alen spent more than 60 years as an agent, representing musical icons including Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, before retiring in 2010.

The last 39 years of his career was spent at the earlier incarnation of WME, where he became senior VP and had a five-year stint as head of the agency’s music division. Alen moved to the Beverly Hills office in 1971 and also helped open the agency’s London office.

Alen was credited with bringing more country, Latin and Contemporary Christian artists to the company such as Charlie Rich and the Oak Ridge Boys as well as Williams, and into CCM with Sandi Patty.

Over the years, Alen also represented Ray Charles, James Brown, Rod Stewart, Hank Williams Jr., Tom Jones, Fats Domino, Cheech & Chong, Barry White and Juanes.

“I’ve dealt with some wonderful artists and hey, it’s just been a great run”

His early triumphs included signing Berry in the early 50s when he was still on Chess Records. He continued to represent Berry for more than 50 years and was an honorary pallbearer at his funeral in 2017 – something he also did for Franklin when she died the following year.

Alen started his career in the late 40s with a small agency run by Roy Gerber (who went on to book TV’s most popular variety shows) and Norman Weiss (who later worked with the Beatles), then in 1952 moved to Shaw Artists, working with jazz and R&B artists including Domino, Charles, the Clovers and the Orioles.

He took a break from the agency world to do a stretch as Woody Herman’s road manager before joining Universal Attractions, where he represented Solomon Burke, Joe Tex, Johnny Taylor as well as Berry and Little Richard. At Universal, he worked to establish an audience and market in Europe for African American R&B and jazz musicians. He and Jack Bart eventually bought out Universal Attractions.

Alen was also instrumental in setting up the bookings that had the Rolling Stones opening for Berry and the Beatles doing the same for their idol Little Richard.

In an interview with Billboard earlier this year, Alen said: “When I’m asked about my career, my answer is that I thank my lucky stars for it. I’m old and a little shaky, but still upright. I’ve dealt with some wonderful artists and hey, it’s just been a great run.”


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ASM Global to manage Baltimore venue

Venue management giant ASM Global has added Baltimore’s Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric (2,565-cap.) to its expanding portfolio.

The Modell Lyric joins recent ASM additions the Gateshead Quays (12,500-cap.) in the UK the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium (23,000-cap.) in Ohio, USA. ASM Global also holds a 25% stake in Australian stadium operator VenuesLive.

ASM Global, which formed as the result of a mega-merger between AEG Facilities and SMG, has a five-year agreement with the Lyric Foundation for management of the Baltimore venue. An Outback Concerts-promoted Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band show will be the first to take place under ASM’s management on 16 and 17 June 2020.

“We are excited to welcome the Lyric to the ASM Global family of performing arts centres,” says Bob Newman, president and CEO of ASM Global. “We have a long and successful history in Baltimore at the Royal Farms Arena (14,000-cap.) and more recently at MECU Pavilion (4,400-cap.).

“ASM Global understands the Lyric’s vision and mission”

“The Lyric further expands our portfolio in the region and compliments the other two facilities, enabling us to better serve our patrons, promoters and partners in the area.”

“We are happy that our first booking at the Lyric is Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band,” adds Bob Papke, vice president of theatres for ASM Global. “The Modell Lyric is an incredible venue and we look forward to bringing a variety of artists and attractions to the theater.”

John Denick, chair of the Lyric Foundation comments that ASM Global “understand[s] the Lyric’s vision and mission.

“They represent a great opportunity for growth, and we look forward to a long and successful relationship,” says Denick.

The Modell Lyric, a not-for-profit performing arts centre serving the greater Baltimore area, has hosted acts including Aretha Franklin, Robbie Williams, Chris Rock, Diana Ross, Santana and the Grateful Dead.

Tickets for the Ringo Starr show go on sale at 10 a.m. EST today (Friday 15 November) here.


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Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, dies aged 76

Aretha Franklin, soul music superstar, voice of black America and one of the best-selling artists of all time, has passed away aged 76.

In a statement issued through her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, the late singer’s family say she died this morning at home in Detroit, “surrounded by family and loved ones”, after losing her battle with pancreatic cancer. “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart,” reads the family statement. “We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins knew no bounds.”

Born in Memphis, Tenessee, in 1942, Franklin released her first debut album, the gospel LP Songs of Faith, in 1956, before moving successfully into secular music in the early ’60s. She sold more than 75 million records worldwide over her six decades in music, with top-ten hits including ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman’, ‘Think’, ‘I Say a Little Prayer’, ‘Respect’, ‘Chain of Fools’ and Otis Redding cover ‘Respect’.

In addition to her chart success, Franklin was also a campaigner for civil rights for black Americans – when she was inducted in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012, she was hailed as “the voice of the civil-rights movement” and a “symbol of black equality” – and an electrifying live performer.

Franklin’s live career was nothing short of outstanding. Having begun touring at the age of 14 with her father’s “gospel caravan” tours of churches, by the mid-60s, signed to Columbia, she was attracting six-figure fees from countless performances in nightclubs and theatres.

“Aretha Franklin was one of the most iconic voices in music history and a brilliant artist”

In 1971, Franklin became the first R&B performer to headline historic San Francisco venue Fillmore West, later releasing the live album Aretha Live at Fillmore West. As her focus shifted towards concerts and special appearances during the course of her career, highlights included subbing for opera star Luciano Pavarotti at the 1998 Grammy Awards to sing the aria ‘Nessun Dorma’.

Franklin sang at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jnr, the inaugurations of two US presidents (Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) and for Pope Francis during his US visit in 2005. One of her most memorable performances was just three years ago at the 2015 Kennedy Center when she sang Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s ‘(You Make Me Feel) A Natural Woman’ to a standing ovation from presidents and celebrities alike.

While Franklin had refused to fly for nearly 40 years and so confined touring to the US, her 1968 European shows (which included the Olympia in Paris, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and Konserthuset in Stockholm) included a number of unforgettable performances including a timeless rendition of Willie Nelson’s ‘Night Life’.

Her final performance was for the Elton John Aids Foundation’s 25th anniversary gala at the Church of St John the Divine in New York on 7 November. John today paid tribute on social media saying: “We were witnessing the greatest soul artist of all time. I adored her and worshipped her talent… The whole world will miss her but will always rejoice in her remarkable legacy. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen.”

According to Showbiz411, on 18 November 2018, Madison Square Garden will host “Clive Davis Presents: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin,” presented with Live Nation. The Sony executive had proposed an all-star tribute to the late singer in June to commemorate an extraordinary 60 years in show business.

“Her distinctive sound, unforgettable recordings and giving spirit will continue to be celebrated worldwide”

“Aretha Franklin was an incomparable artist who came to be recognised as one of the most profound voices in music,” comments Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy.

“During her six-decade career Aretha earned 44 Grammy nominations, 18 Grammy Awards and was recognised by the Recording Academy on several occasions for her remarkable accomplishments as an artist and philanthropist.”

He continues: “Her distinctive sound, unforgettable recordings and giving spirit will continue to be celebrated worldwide. Aretha will be dearly missed, and our thoughts go out to her loved ones during this difficult time.”

A statement from Live Nation says Franklin’s “legacy will live on through [her] music”:

A spokesperson for Sony Music, one of Franklin’s labels, adds: “Aretha Franklin was one of the most iconic voices in music history and a brilliant artist. Over the course of her decades-long career, which included many years with the Sony Music family, she inspired countless musicians and fans, and created a legacy that paved the way for a long line of strong female artists. Sony Music joins the world in mourning her passing.”

“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world,” continue Franklin’s family. “Thank you for your compassion and prayers.

“We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”


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