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.”
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.