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Veteran booking agent Richard Cowley passes

Richard Cowley, the former co-head of Chrysalis Agency and co-founder of Primary Talent forerunner Cowbell, has passed away aged 72.

Born on 3 November 1945, Cowley was, with business partner Kenny Bell, operating an agency called Universal Attractions when he came to attention of Chrysalis co-founder Chris Wright, then running the Ellis-Wright Agency alongside Terry Ellis. The two companies merged in 1967 to form Chrysalis, with the legendary Chrysalis Records imprint following a year later.

Acts represented by Ellis-Wright/Chrysalis included Ten Years After, Jeff Beck, Jethro Tull, Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Nice and the group who became Led Zeppelin, the New Yardbirds.

Following the merger, Cowley (pictured) and Bell “effectively took over the running of the Chrysalis Agency”, writes Wright in his memoir, One Way or Another. “Richard and Kenny were the heads of Chrysalis Agency when I arrived there,” explains Primary Talent co-founder Martin Hopewell, who worked at Chrysalis alongside agents including John Jackson, Allan McGowan, Nigel Hassler, Jeff Craft and the late Dave Chumbley.

“He was a true gent and lovely man”

After exiting Chrysalis, Cowley and Bell went on to form Cowbell Agency. “He carried on through Cowbell and World Service, but we parted company when we formed Primary [in 1990],” continues Hopewell.

McGowan, who worked at Chrysalis in the early ’70s, before it became Cowbell, remembers the agency as “one of the best around at the time”. “He [Cowley] knew what he was doing in the business,” says McGowan. “He was one of the originals.”

In later years Cowley worked as a healthcare consultant.

Hassler, now at CAA, started his career at World Service, where Cowley was “one of the bosses”, he says. “He was a true gent and lovely man. He was a real family man and seemed to have worked out the life/work balance. He will be missed.”


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