Monday, July 30, 2012 | 6:18 p.m.
While Robin Leach takes his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, many of our Strip and Las Vegas personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. Our thanks to them all. We continue today with Susan Joseph, CEO and chairwoman of Las Vegas-headquartered Justice Entertainment Group.
Susan is a 35-year veteran of the music and entertainment industry and has worked with music acts that have sold more than 500 million records worldwide. With a bold move to Las Vegas expanding JEG, she shoulders the responsibility for concert and event promotion at the Thomas & Mack Center, Phillips Arena, T.I. and Planet Hollywood.
I have been fortunate enough to work with some incredibly talented people in my 35 years in the music business, people like Diane Warren, Seals and Croft, Laura Branigan, Bobby Caldwell, Patrice Rushen, Eddie Kendricks, Nell Carter, Tower of Power and more. I came into the business in the 1970s at a time when pop music was, in my humble opinion, at its finest. Throughout the years, I ended up managing not just single acts, but generations and families, as well. The business and my life became cross-connected and incestuous.
I graduated from Emerson College in Boston and went back to New York (I’m a Brooklyn girl) to find fame and fortune as a singer and actress and ended up working at a talent agency, IFA (which later merged with CMA to become ICM). There, I met and worked with the 1970s pop duo Seals and Crofts. I ended up moving to Los Angeles to work with their manager, Marcia Day. I also ended up marrying her nephew, Marc Joseph. My sister married his brother, Rick Joseph (who became an entertainment attorney).
I started managing England Dan and John Ford Coley. England Dan (Dan Seals) was Jimmy Seals’ younger brother. I signed them to Doug Morris and Big Tree Records. I also signed my husband to Big Tree Records. I arranged for my brother-in-law to work at Dawnbreaker Music (Seals and Crofts Publishing). Dash Crofts (who was married to Marc’s cousin) became my cousin by marriage, as did Seals & Croft’s producer and incredible guitar player, Louis Shelton, and Joey Bogan, their engineer.
In the 1970s, I managed a female sister duo, Leslie and Kelley, whom I also signed to Doug Morris (now chairman of Sony/BMG) when he owned Big Tree Records, distributed by Atlantic. I knew their father and mother very well. The father, Sid Bulkin, was the drummer for Vic Damone and Peggy Lee. The mother, Joan Bulkin, was a former dancer on “The Red Skelton Show.”
Later, during the time that I managed Laura Branigan, Leslie married a young songwriter, singer and producer, Mark Spiro, who was working with Laura’s producer, Jack White. I began to manage Mark (who I have been with, on and off, for 25 years). Well, now I’m doing work with Mark and Leslie’s two daughters, Ruby and Summer (a sister duo called Ruby Summer). History just repeating itself.
Also during the 1970s, my partner Dick, who has done more than 25,000 shows and concerts, promoted most of the live performances of David Cassidy during his teen idol and “The Partridge Family” days. In addition, he did all of the shows for Shaun Cassidy during that time and promoted some appearances for their father, Jack Cassidy.
My business manager, Howard Borris, represents Shaun and represented his mother Shirley Jones and stepfather Marty Ingels. Later, David Cassidy married Sue Shifrin, a wonderful, talented songwriter I had known since the 1970s, and they had a son, Beau. I now manage their son, Beau Cassidy. Dick will no doubt promote his performances.
There are many more cross-connects. Greg Young, who works with me, produces Donny and Marie. All of my acts at one point or another were on “The Donny and Marie Show.” Dick promoted shows with Donny and Marie. Mark Spiro wrote songs for Donny and David Cassidy (and now Beau Cassidy). And, of course, when you live in Las Vegas, you can’t help but cross-connect with everyone that you have ever known in my business.
It’s a fascinating place where people who were marginal in your world are dying to visit you. I look forward to the next generation of artists, cousins, husbands (maybe not) that cross-connect in my life. I can’t imagine a better place to reconnect.
Our thanks to Susan for her contributions to the Las Vegas entertainment scene. Be sure to check out our other guest columns today from Ron Randazzo, who has been the manager of the Steakhouse at Circus Circus for more than 30 years, and Travis Cloer and Graham Fenton, who portray Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys” at the Paris. Join us Tuesday when our guest columnists are hometown singing hero Michael Grimm, comedian Geechy Guy and the high-speed sports enthusiast who brought motorcycle racing to town.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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