If you regularly attended the Pittsburgh concerts in the 70s, 80s or 90s, you knew Rich Engler.
His name was on your ticket stub, as the more active half of DiCesare-Engler Productions, the major regional concert bookers of that era, bringing most of the big acts to town.
His title could have been “promoter,” though Engler says a more appropriate one might have been “player,” as he explains in “Behind The Stage Door,” a documentary about his pioneering career that premieres September 13 on DIRECTV, Apple TV, iTunes, Verizon FIOS and Frontier Communications.
The film depicts Engler’s life and his relationships with big-name artists like the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and Paul McCartney.
Engler is moved as he recalls how a visibly weakened Bob Marley insisted on playing a show at the Stanley Theater because his bandmates “needed the money”. This concert by Marley, on September 23, 1980, at what is now the Benedum Center, would be the last performance of Marley, who died less than eight months later of cancer.
“Behind the Stage Door” is based on interviews with music industry insiders like James Taylor’s manager Peter Asher, Kiss’ manager Doc McGhee, rockers Phil Ehart (Kansas), Lou Gramm (Foreigner ), James Young (Styx), Danny Seraphine (Chicago), and Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson, who says “The relationship between a promoter and an artist is rarely a very close, personal relationship”, noting that Engler was an exception.
“We were treated well and respected,” Lifeson said.
Gramm recalled Engler sitting in the lobbies of Pittsburgh radio stations at 6 a.m., accompanying Foreigner during interviews promoting their local show.
“It made us love him even more,” he said.
Engler recalls his working-class father’s reaction when he first heard that his son hoped to become a concert promoter: “I hate to tell you, son, it’s not a career, it’s a hobby. -time.”
A band manager says Engler and a few other 1970s promoters acted as “godfathers” ruling over their turf, though they built the successful infrastructure for what became a billion-dollar gig industry. dollars.
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Engler helped rewrite the rules, as a promoter who also printed the concert tickets.
Although even successful players and sponsors suffer losses.
“You throw $3 million on the table betting that an attraction will at least break even,” Engler said. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Exhibit A: The 1988 Monsters of Rock show at Three Rivers Stadium featuring Van Halen, Metallica, The Scorpions, Dokken and Kingdom Come.
“I needed 40,000 people to break even, 30,000 people (and) lost $400,000 in one afternoon,” Engler said. “It’s rough.”
DiCesare-Engler made his fortune in 1998 when he sold his assets to Clear Channel, the conglomerate that became Live Nation, the industry’s leading concert promoters and owners of venues like The Pavilion at Star Lake.
This transition hasn’t necessarily benefited viewers, the documentary claims.
“When big business takes over, everything changes,” Engler said. “The music industry has really started to fall apart. Guess who’s hurt? The customer. Ticket prices just keep going up and up and up and up. I didn’t know that you were selling your heart and soul and everything.”
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Billy Price’s 50 Years of Soul
Love, lust, longing, lament – Billy Price dives into all the crucial emotions with his sweet, soulful voice on a new three-CD set: ‘Billy Price: 50+ Years of Soul’.
The beloved blue-eyed Pittsburgh soul/R&B singer curated the remixed collection, evenly spanning his half-century career. It includes songs from his early days in the 1970s as a singer with nationally acclaimed guitar virtuoso Roy Buchanan, before leading The Keystone Rhythm Band and Billy Price Band.
Price’s liner notes give ample credit to the old Jeree Recording in New Brighton, where Price & The Keystone Rhythm Band’s debut album, “Is It Over?” was recorded in 1978-79.
“New Brighton was an unlikely location for a recording studio,” Price says, “but on Jeree’s board was a kindred spirit by the name of Don Garvin. Don, a great guitarist who played for many years with alumni band Pure Gold, was a soul-blues aficionado like me, we clicked from the moment we met, and Don became an engineer and played guitar on three albums for me at Jeree’s ( “Danger Zone” and “The Soul Collection” were others).
The 16-page insert also covers former KRB and Billy Price Band notables like Eric Leeds who later joined music legend Prince’s band; the late Glenn Pavone, whom Price remembers as a guitarist as talented as any national guitar god, and Eric DeFade, the two-time Grammy Award-winning saxophonist and assistant professor at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center, that Price salutes on stage amid a couple Disc 1 live selections.
The CDs also include excerpts from Price’s collaborations with his R&B/soul music hero Otis Clay and blues guitarist Fred Chapellier, which helped Price expand his French fanbase.
Available at billyprice.com, “Billy Price: 50+ Years of Soul” is one of those uplifting albums that you listen to from cover to cover, relishing in the way Price vocally testifies to the power of everything. -powerful of love. Album snippets like “I Know It’s Your Party (I Just Came Here to Dance)”, “Lifestyles of The Poor and Unknown”, “It Ain’t a Juke Joint Without The Blues” and “Let’s Get Married” will put pep in your walk.
To hear it live, head to the official CD release show on October 1 at the Syria Shrine Center in Cheswick.
WYEP Weekend Mix
Pittsburgh’s 91.3 WYEP changed its weekend lineup, eliminating a few specialty shows to give listeners more of the indie rock, Americana, blues, and local hip-hop the station airs on weekdays.
Among the changes, “An American Sampler” is leaving the Sunday night schedule. Host Ken Batista is among the station’s longest-serving volunteer hosts, bringing folk and acoustic music to listeners for 31 years.
“The Soul Show,” a tradition since 1995, is also deviating from its Saturday afternoon slot. Soft-spoken host Mike Canton will continue the show on his website, soulshowmike.org.
Unchanged are the Saturday night blues shows, Big Town Blues and Rollin’ & Tumblin’.
Catch “The Grateful Dead Hour” at 11 p.m. on Sunday.
Scott Tady is entertainment editor at The Times and easy to reach at [email protected].