Elliot Roberts, who led the careers of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Tom Petty, and many classic rock legends, died Friday at the age of 76. Rolling Stone has confirmed Roberts' death, though a The cause of death is unknown.
With his former colleague David Geffen, Roberts was one of the key figures in the rise of Southern California music scenes and Laurel Canyon in the sixties and seventies. Roberts, who is equally known for his skill and sense of humor, scored record contracts for Tracy Chapman and the cars for Young and Mitchell, who were co-led by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
"Elliot was a fun, brilliant friend and dedicated manager," Graham Nash said in a statement. "His life has touched many people and he has produced the best. He was the glue that kept CSNY together in our early years, and I'm sure I'll miss him with sorrow in my heart.
Roberts has long been known as one of the keen protector of his customers. "I think I'm tough," he told the young biographer Jimmy McDonough in Shakey (1
The stubborn manager also negotiated about Crosby, Stills and Nash & Young's massive stadium tour of 1974 and later organized the deal between Petty and the Heartbreakers new crowd later that decade. "As I told them, this will hold us together; Otherwise, this band will not stay together, "he told little biographer Warren Zanes last year. "It was something I had to do as Tom's manager."
Born on February 25, 1943, Elliot Rabinowitz grew up in the Bronx, ran with gangs, and after flirting with the idea of becoming an athlete, retired. His basketball heads opted for show business. He landed at the post office of the William Morris Agency, where he met his colleague David Geffen.
After he and Geffen had climbed the ladder, Roberts heard a cassette from Mitchell and soon became their manager, forming Lookout Management. At Mitchell's insistence, Roberts, also just 23, started to lead Young (after the break-up of Buffalo Springfield) and soon Crosby, Stills & Nash. When Roberts tried to sign a record deal with the trio, he found that he needed someone with more contacts to record companies. Together with Geffen he founded the powerful Geffen-Roberts Company. The management company soon represented not only Mitchell (until 1985), but also Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, America and many others. When Geffen founded Asylum Records, his acts, including the Eagles and Jackson Browne, were also managed by Geffen-Roberts.
Roberts & Young's working relationship, which began in 1969 and lasted until Robert's death, was one of the most common permanent artist-manager relationships in rock history. However, the two often-crushed heads stayed close together, forging a link that took them through the peaks and valleys of Young's career. "Because I avoid the confrontations and bring bad news, I can not help it," wrote Young in his first paper, Waging Heavy Peace . "Elliot is. He knows how to communicate, where I do not … Just as I wake up with a new idea every day, he wakes up every day with a new approach to solving the problems that arise in the projects I'm already immersed in Many of them. That's our pattern.
As Roberts McDonough in Shakey said, "I could not write all those great, damn albums for Neil or have the pain he has to get those emotions out. I can protect him, I can flaunt him, I can make sure it's something special that everyone knows. "