Frank Barsalona, Remembered

Paul said: "Trying to get U2 signed to Premier Talent was the reason for my trip when I flew to New York for the very first time in 1980. I was a baby manager but I knew that Premier were the agency that had driven the British Invasion for the Who, Zeppelin and all the great bands. U2 were recording their first album, "Boy," in Dublin, with Steve Lillywhite producing, for Island Records. When I arrived in New York, I phoned Frank Barsalona's office for an appointment. They took my number, maybe they would have called back.  The next day my father died suddenly back in Dublin. I phoned Premier to say I wouldn't be able to see Frank that week because I would be at the funeral  but I would be back soon. He had to see me when I returned, I was the guy in Ireland whose father had died ...

"When I met Frank a week or two later he listened to the U2 tape, looked at a video clip I had made,  and (with some encouragement from Chris Blackwell, who had once bailed out his agency) agreed to represent the band. It was the most important alliance we had made up to then.

"Through the 1980s in North America, Barbara Skydel and Frank guided U2 to becoming one the great live act they are now. Over many late nights sitting in his office as he told me his stories, after everyone had gone home, he gave me my education in the business. Sometimes we went to watch a Yankees game, but mostly we sat and he talked, often till midnight.

"He taught U2 and myself something that has stood us in good stead ever since -- that an artist has two parallel careers: one on record and one live. The fact that record success came later for U2 was compensated for by their much quicker rise to fame as one of the great live attractions.

"He and his network of regional promoters gave us so much of their skill and wisdom. In 1991/1992 we did the ambitious, expensive, and deservedly legendary, ZooTV tour. We kept the ticket price low and only broke even.

"In 1997 when costs were even higher, we were planning the PopMart tour and we changed the business model, and decided to invite bids from interested parties who would underwrite the whole world tour, and shoulder the financial risk that the band had hitherto taken. This meant working without an agent and I had the painful task of informing Frank and Barbara that U2 were no longer Premier clients. The business was changing. I had to say the same to Ian Flooks of Wasted Talent, who had been our brilliant agent in the rest of the world.

"We then started working worldwide with Michael Cohl and Arthur Fogel, then working under the name TNA. Though Michael is no longer part of the organization, TNA became SFX, that became Clear Channel and the current Live Nation concert organization, which is in many ways the successor to Frank Barsalona's network.  We are still working with Arthur Fogel, who first played U2 in the El Mocambo in Toronto in 1980, a date booked by Premier.

"Frank was a great man and we will not see his like again. My sympathies and condolences go to his wife June and daughter Nicole."

Read more at http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/touring/frank-barsalona-remembered-by-u2-manager-1008028402.story#LJz8tfyBlgc1mkCv.99


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