Ken East has moved to Motown as International Managing Director and I have joined him as UK Managing Director and International Marketing Director. This is my first "non-line management" job and my task is to promote the famed Motown artists and their recordings throughout Europe. What is different is that we have licensees in each country who do the actual marketing and my role is one of "arms length" encouragement, persuasion and if necessary "kick butt" to ensure success. The only real power we have with our licensees is that ultimately we can change them at contracts end. However if things go wrong it is Ken and I who will take the heat from Motown head office.
Marvin Gaye has a new album out, “I WANT YOU” and as part of the promotion he is in London and will play The Royal Albert Hall. We have a press conference at a Knightsbridge Hotel and it all goes well. After many one on one interviews we have organised for Marvin with reporters from the more important music newspapers, the last interview remaining is with a very attractive lady from a major daily newspaper. After we introduce Marvin to the lady he immediately requests we move this one to his suite as he is tired of being in the conference room. We organise that and leave them to it. Ken and I wait at the bar and about an hour later the young lady, now with a slightly embarrassed look on her face, comes back and joins us for a farewell drink.
That evening Ken and I have dinner with Marvin and he spends most of the meal complaining about “unpaid royalties” and even Ken’s excellent diplomacy is tested. Thankfully the conversation gets diverted when from a nearby table a gentleman gets up choking for breath, with seemingly something stuck in his throat. Marvin is quickly on his feet, grabs the man from behind and squeezes him hard; amazingly getting the man’s throat cleared. Marvin becomes an immediate hero of the restaurant crowd and we no longer have to talk about difficult money matters, over which we have no knowledge or authority.
The next evening we host special guests at a private box with bar service at Marvin’s Royal Albert Hall concert and we witness a master singer/songwriter at the top of his form. In my memory this performance remains as The Best of any artist I have seen. What a loss to music when Marvin Gaye was shot and killed by his father in 1984.