An Eye For Talent

You may have heard of Dick Rowe.

If you have not, he was the A&R guy who is said to have written a curt note to the manager of an act in February 1962 saying, “Guitar bands are on their way out Mr Epstein.”

The band were the Beatles.

Now, I was going to write a piece explaining that, over the last few months, I have worked on a number of projects where I have found myself channelling Brian Epstein. I know that the jobs, fundraising exercises and strategy discussions that I am involved with are projects for companies with technology that will make the invention of the telephone look trivial. Why would you not want to work for them, invest in them or licence in their IP? I am at the top of my game. Why will your cruddy record company not sign my acts? Mr Rowe, you are clearly an idiot.

And then I thought some more and did a little digging and found a more nuanced view.

Dick Rowe sat in on a live demo and, from other reports from people who were there, the Fab Four were Lacklustre Liverpudlians that day. They had done okay in Hamburg and in Liverpool but they were pretty much unknown in early 1962. We know them now because of their domination of first British and then international popular music through the mid-60’s. But Dick Rowe could only base his decision on a duff session in a studio with no audience or atmosphere.

There is no doubt that Mr Rowe had an eye for talent. For example, he went on to sign the Rolling Stones, a group who would later have the genius to form their own tribute band.

It is also the case that until his death in 1986, Mr Rowe spent many, many hours denying that he had ever sent that fateful note to Mr Epstein. The only source for the story is an anecdote in Epstein’s 1964 autobiography.

So, once again reality is more complex and untidy than your average “Telling Everyone How Clever I Am In Business” puff piece.

What I think are fabulous opportunities for employment and investment may well be just that and you would be a fool to ignore them. However, we all need to understand that they could also be Mick Jagger’s solo career.


The trade that I am in requires that both my clients and I need to be diligent about explaining why they really are fantastic, and, possibly acknowledge that some of our repertoires need a bit of work. Perhaps you do need a different drummer.

On the other side of the microphone (as it were), maybe just because you have seen three innovative PCR based rapid STD tests this week that does not necessarily mean that the market for new PCR based rapid STD tests is moribund.

Posted on: 5th November 2018 by Ivor Campbell

Into his fourth decade of search Ivor has a voice with stories to tell, observations to make and the odd picture to share. Mostly related to the day job.

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