Rock Promoters # 1
by Regis Boff
Harvey Weinstein, his brother Bob, and Corky Burger, independently produced rock concerts as Harvey & Corky Productions in Buffalo through most of the 1970s. I did many shows, both with Genesis and later with The Who with Harvey.
It is difficult to explain how the live show business ran in those days. Every major city had venues; some were simply gymnasiums, of five hundred seats or more. One to two thousand seaters where nearly everywhere, they were old movie or stage theaters or just convention halls. Later on, there were stadiums, but no act in the beginning was big enough to play those.
When Genesis played gymnasiums, we carried a huge curtain in our trucks that we would string across the entire room. This way we could make it look like we sold out every show. We simply told the reviewers that we never planned to fill the whole room. “Genesis: Sold Out” was important in the beginning.
When rock started to catch on bands began to hop from city to city using local promoters to advertise, sell tickets and rent space. These people were necessary and were, in many cases, dangerously crooked. For years throughout Europe and the US and Canada, we used promoters we had never met. They were essentially gamblers who wired us money in England to secure the date, then desperately tried to sell enough tickets to glean a profit. If you grew up in a city going to concerts, you always knew who the local promoter was. Guys like Bill Graham and Harvey Weinstein all started this way.
Genesis ruined a lot of guys. They would pay us, and we would play and their life’s savings would disappear.
Wars developed quickly over who controlled each market. To Genesis’s credit, they remained loyal to the people who at first lost money betting on them.
Getting paid was never easy. They all lied and cheated. I watched a manager pick a promoter up by his ankles and hold him upside down in Europe. He bounced his head on the floor until he agreed to pay. Much worse happened.