“Mick Jagger Is The Best Band Manager In The World”
“I’m a fireman. I’m constantly dealing with problems and putting out fires”, John Giddings explained his job in a recent interview with The Red Bulletin. Whereas other people would crumble under pressure, the 63-year-old Brit says that thrive on stress and problems. Which is necessary in his job. Promoting stadium tours for superstars like Madonna, The Rolling Stones and U2 obviously requires a lot of patience, inventiveness and a love for risks.
His passion for risks probably explains why Giddings decided to revive the legendary Isle of Wight festival in 2001. Back then nobody believed in its resurrection, but he managed to turn it into a success story, with 60,000 revellers turning
up each year.
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The 2016 edition (June 9–12) will see heavy weights such as The Who, Faithless, Queen + Adam Lambert and Stereophonics take the stage. In anticipation of the event, Giddings sat down with The Red Bulletin to let loose on how it is to work with rock legends such as Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger.
1 David Bowie
“In 1989 David Bowie’s US agent called me saying, ‘can I get Wembley for him?’ I sent him back a costing for Wembley Arena. And he sent me a telex back saying, ‘no, I mean Wembley Stadium, not Arena!’”
“I went to Wembley Stadium and I stood there for 10 minutes and my legs were shaking. And I thought, alright, it’s just a bigger gig. We put tickets for one show and we sold out two shows in a day. That was the first stadium show I ever did.”
“I worked for David for 30 years. He’s the one artist I have represented where I always thought I should have asked him for his photograph. His passing is tragic. I’m just privileged and proud to have worked with him.”
2 Iggy Pop
“He’s the ultimate professional. He’s very intelligent. When you have dinner with him, you don’t talk about his career. You can talk about art, politics, fashion and so on. He’s doing this radio show at the moment and everybody knows he has a depth of thought and imagination.”
“He’s not just the godfather of punk. James Osterberg becomes Iggy Pop on stage. Iggy is an incredibly artistic individual. I always thought Iggy, David Bowie and Lou Reed were the triumvirate, and I managed to work with all three.”
3 Lou Reed
“I once booked him at the festival to play before Coldplay. He played an hour of .. I mean, I have no idea what he played. It was completely crazy. And Coldplay came on and played “Perfect Day”, because they didn’t even know if he’d played it. I loved Lou Reed but he did come across as slightly miserable, bless his soul.”
4 Mick Jagger
“He is the best manager of any rock ‘n’ roll band in the world. Because he decides everything that The Rolling Stones do. They don’t have a manager per se.”
“Where they are going to play, what the money is going to be – he orchestrates everything himself. You can see him coming out of the lift in the morning on the phone with his stockbroker going: buy, sell, buy, sell. And hours later he gets on stage and delivers. I think that’s an incredible job. Also, to keep that group on the top of the tree for this length of time is an accolade.”
6 Paul McCartney
“There was a funny moment in 2010 when Paul McCartney’s manager called me on the morning of his gig and said, ‘Have you got someone on site who can do acrylic nails?’ I was like, ‘What the heck is that?’ I thought he was joking. But then I found a woman in Cowes who turned up with her little box. I thought it was for Paul’s backing singers, but it was for him, because you need to harden your nails to play acoustic guitar.”