Bredonborough Rising at and over
Rising at 06.20 and over the road to morning reading I...
10.03 A friend-comment on Facebook…
Talk about a strict reckoning. I have friends who keep telling me about Grooveshark. I can honestly say I have never once tapped into their fishiness. And as I read over this debacle with industrialists and corporate thieves, I can only count my blessings that I never signed a contract with any record company. I doubt seriously I would have the kind of fortitude and skill to deal with their shenanigans. Best wishes in fighting the good fight, Robert.
A good fight? A strict reckoning? There is a current, widespread concern (particularly since 2008) with Right Action and the business ethics of Power Possessors; the widespread abuse of trust by those in authority over, and with responsibility to, others; in many institutions and corporations, however these concerns are expressed.
Cf 8th November 2009
We all suffer when banks abuse customers’ trust.
Lombard: when banks abuse customers’ trust
By Andrew Hill Published: November 6 2009 20:41 | Last updated: November 6 2009 20:41
The credit crunch and ensuing financial crisis were inflamed by a breakdown of trust on a grand scale.
This breakdown of trust on a grand scale was presaged in my own affairs by Endless Grief.
“The past is not dead. It’s not even past.” (William Faulkner). Various pals have suggested that I should drop my ongoing comments on Mr. SG Alder’s version of The EG Way, a way that finished not-well for many people. Perhaps surprisingly to some Diary visitors, given the resilience of commentary, Mr. Sam Alder is forgiven; this itself a given. Yet (the now) Dr. SG Alder has yet to present a clear and coherent account of EG’s collapse, one which determines responsibility and accountability for the events which ended so badly for pretty much everyone within the EG sphere of control. We were Big Boys – caught with our pants down! (Mr. SG Alder’s actual words) was not, and is not, an explanation, nor justification, of Endless Grief. For –ismists and –ologists, SG Alder Esq.’s presentation of the collapse of EG, and my own, are “incompatible truth claims”.Steven Fisher,
Mr. Alder’s solicitor, claimed in writing (1993) that his clients, Messrs. SG Alder and MA Fenwick “are renowned for their probity and sound business practices”. So, it seems fair and reasonable to enquire:
1. Renowned by whom? (Or, in the words of a well-placed person within Virgin Records at the time: On which planet?). Perhaps three testimonies from managed artists and their current advisers (preferably Bryan Ferry and his team
), three from employees, three from record companies, three from licensee publishing-companies (preferably FujiPacific on their 1991 dealings as EG licensee in Japan)?
2. What do you understand by probity?
3. What criteria do you apply to sound business practices?
Reputation and the opinions of others aside, once we have clear standards for probity and sound business practices, we may place the actions of SG Alder Esq. at EG alongside the claims made for them.
Reputation and the opinions of others aside, once we have clear standards for probity and sound business practices, we may place the actions of SG Alder Esq. at EG alongside the claims made for them.
Mr. Fisher’s letter, from a solicitor, a representative of the law, I find troubling and problematical. Mr. Fisher claims standards for Messrs. Alder and Fenwick’s behavior as a fact that (to my eyes and in my direct experience of his clients) were absent in key areas. I have no difficulty with an assertion such as: My clients claim to be renowned for their probity and sound business practices. This is legitimate: the solicitor is here being paid to make a claim on behalf of his fee-paying clients. But, to assume the imprimatur of the legal system for exemplary conduct difficult to substantiate, contrary to the experience of several managed artists – ouchalamus est!
Endless Grief undermined my confidence in the process of law, the public-school educated, the English Gentleman, chartered accountants and the professions, players within public life and charities: pretty much all those institutions that were an end-result of a long process of developing-standards in public and national life throughout C19-20th. Britain. In the postwar Dorset of my youth, I was brought up to have confidence in these institutions. In attempting to understand the mechanics of Endless Grief, I am also attempting to understand the present era: an Age Of Greed characterized by the Abuse Of Trust.
How to see all of this? The universe in a grain of sand, the Human Condition in one sorry management firm?
To determine what it takes to be a Proper Person worthy of the name, and characteristics of The Ethical Company, one informative approach is to grasp how EG began well, went off course, turned in the direction opposite its beginning-point, then crashed and took people with it. How could someone with a privileged background, an exemplary citizen
, claim to be an honest, God-fearing family man, a Good Guy you can trust, with nothing to hide, renowned for his probity and sound business practices in an industry renowned for deceit, be an exploitative manager and use artist income to support his own collapsing affairs?
Within the story of this awful, nasty mess = denial, evasion, obfuscation, greed, dishonesty, deception, lying and hypocrisy - there is also repair, reconciliation, redemption, hope, triumph of the spirit. All in all, a superb liberal education for a young person seeking such, albeit with very high tuition fees.
Currently, and for some time, all EG documents from the critical period (1988-95) are in process of being scanned. This, inter alia, for several reasons…
1. For Rough Music: the second book in the trilogy of The Writing Project.
2. To clarify the events.
3. To clarify my own experience of those events. It is sometimes very difficult to hold to our own sense of things when strong-willed others tell us our experience is mistaken; especially when those others control and direct most of our material lives and income flows. Part of this is the victimology of abuse: economic abuse is one form of abuse, particularly when reinforced by bullying, belligerence and threats.
4. To draw attention to the events; that we may all be held responsible and accountable for our actions; and own-up when and where our conduct is less than our claims and aspirations for it.
5. To learn from the events; that standards of Right Action and Best Practice may be applied to personal and professional behaviour, in public and private, that conduct may be fairly appraised and judged; and our practices improved. To what extent, for example, did Mr. Alder’s professional and managerial practices at EG contribute to the music industry culture of its day? To the wider business culture? Do these continue to have resonance? Would the music and financial services industries today be better places were Mr. Sam G Alder’s EG to have exemplified the probity and sound business practices claimed for it?
6. To turn a seeming disadvantage to an advantage.
7. To undermine confidence in the mode of thinking that has given rise to, and supports, the values of contemporary Western Industrial Society.
8. To undermine confidence in the propriety of Standard Practices in the present-day music industry.
9. To protect myself in the eventuality that Mr. Sam Alder considers taking action for defamation. This would, even at the present stage of scanning the formal EG documents and Mr. Alder’s handwritten letters to me
(ie not written by an EG secretary, therefore not going into EG’s office filing-system) be a pretty dopey move. But, rationality and reason are not characteristics I associate with the music industry and its characters. Sam G Alder Esq. had a reputation for litigiousness (music industry solicitor on the telephone to me in 1991); and even threatened me with litigation to enforce my remaining within EG (17th. April 1991).
Dr. Samuel George Alder cannot be unaware of the DGM Diaries, and attempted to delete references to EG in the original Frame By Frame Scrapbook (released by Virgin in November 1991).
In the Scrapbook I wrote: "My own declared failure to provide EG with revenue was compounded by the general decline of record sales and the collapse of the property market. EG developed problems in settling artists’ accounts throughout 1990 culminating in failure to meet the royalty payments of December 31st. 1990. The sale of EG Records to Virgin, with its interest in the EG catalogue of twenty-one years, was completed in April 1991 shortly after my resignation". (NB At the time of writing, I was not aware that the main reason for the collapse of EG was the effect on the EG partners, Messrs. Alder and Fenwick, of their involvement as Lloyd’s Names
/ Insuring Disaster
/ Fraud Timeline
). Deep Throat whispered this in my ear a little afterwards).
On 1st. November 1991 Mr. Steven Fisher, the solicitor acting for EG, wrote to John Kennedy, the solicitor acting for me: "... Robert Fripp ... delivered the King Crimson Boxed Set .. on behalf of our clients ...” (RF interjection: that the delivery was on behalf of EG was a surprise to both Virgin and myself). “We have already written to Virgin requesting withdrawal of the booklet on the grounds that it contains wording defamatory of our clients ... We have now seen specialist libel Counsel ... we anticipate receiving instructions to enable… proceedings for defamation against inter alios your client. The libel has been compounded by your client’s letter to this firm dated 29 October 1991 in which further libels have been published... we now have no alternative but to request that your client give appropriate undertakings including to correct his defamatory remarks at the possible opportunity in a form to be agreed between us".
On 13th. November 1991 Mr. Fisher wrote regarding a package-deal settlement. The proposals included:
1. A Gagging Clause: "A confidentiality clause concerning the terms of this settlement and all matters leading up to it".
2. Libel: EG would take no further action on The Scrapbook "provided that any reprints of the booklet have the sentence `EG problems in settling artists’ accounts throughout 1990, culminating in failure to meet the royalty payments of December 31 1990’ deleted". EG would also drop action if I abandoned the Dear Andrew letters and plans for magazine publication in America of EG issues.
Virgin Records’ legal department had no difficulties with the comments on EG’s accounting-failures to artists. Virgin were well aware of Messrs. Alder and Fenwick’s financial difficulties as Virgin had bought EG Records over a period of time, advancing much of the money prior to finalizing the acquisition. That is, the Scrapbook statement was accurate, and straightforward.
Straightforwardness is one of the characteristics of The Ethical
(5th April 2005
Three examples of not-quite-straightforwardness, as I understand it:
1. On 19th. June 1991 Mr. Fisher, wrote to John Kennedy
, the solicitor acting for myself: “Robert should rest assured that no steps will be taken in breach of his contracts and that in the future as in the past we are not aware of any reason whereby Robert should fear that he may not be paid his royalties…”.
Errr? How about, EG not paying record royalties for four consecutive six-month periods, over a two-year period (1989-91)? Mr. SG Alder, using his Power Of Attorney in my affairs, to arrange borrowing against my pension with Coutts to cover the shortfall and extend my company overdraft, to keep my affairs afloat?
2, On 8th. August, 1991 Mr. Fisher wrote to John Kennedy regarding queries John had made relating to assignments for my publishing made in favour of EG, dating back to 22 February 1976:
"I do not understand the reference to a `managerial’ role since throughout the period concerned the relationship between Robert and EG Music Ltd. was that of a publisher and writer ... ".
My relationship with EG was always as a managed artist. Mr. Fisher is technically-correct only to the extent that RF as writer was making assignments to EG Music as publisher. Yet Mr. Fisher makes no reference to two EG managers, David Enthoven and Mr. Sam G Alder, visiting me in retreat at Sherborne House
) Gloucestershire on 22nd. February, 1976 to tell me it was necessary to assign my publishing to EG Music so EG could collect my royalties
and protect my copyright interests
This was firstly, a lie; and secondly, a flagrant example of conflict of interest
and undue influence
) driven by management to serve their interests as publishers.
David and Mr. SG Alder did not refer to the change of EG licensee, away from David Platz at Essex Music… David Platz. Softly spoken - he exuded confidence and honesty, and those attributes brought budding songwriters to his door
. A bona fide Good Guy, then. When EG sought advances for renewing the licensing on their (by 1975/76) successful publishing catalogue, David Platz is reported as saying: Only if the artists get their share of the advances. This was not acceptable to Mr. Alder (Deep Throat attributes the alleged comment to Mr. Alder: No-one tells us what to do!) Hence, to receive all the advances from another publishing licensee, EG had to present themselves as copyright-owners of the catalogue, for which artist-assignments (for soe of the artists) were necessary.
David continues to regret this today; but a letter of apology in 1991 redeemed the matter. We are now friends and business associates. An acknowledgement of error and apology goes a long way with me.
3. In Mr. Fisher’s 13th. November 1991 letter to John Kennedy, he wrote: "It has always been my clients’ intention to pay interest on the late payment of the 31 December 1990 royalty ... This would be expressed to be entirely on an ex gratia basis for your client alone and without any precedent being created".
On 10th. January, 1992 Mr. Fisher wrote: "As regards the `interest on the late payment of 31 December 1990’, since the payment itself has been made, your client is not entitled either under general law or contract to any interest".
In a second letter on 10th. January, 1992, Mr. Fisher wrote: “My clients are willing to make payment of interest but the converse is also true: I have advised my clients that I cannot see any merit to be gained by making offers of ex gratia payments without any reciprocity on your client’s part".
So, EG were always willing to pay interest, although they didn’t have to, providing the interest payment that didn’t have to be made was offset with reciprocity; ie nothing was effectively paid anyway.
Good stuff, or what? The enquiring, general reader of today will see conduct here that illustrates and informs institutional practices currently attracting wide media attention; and a little Rough Music, as in the Occupy movement.
An older generation…15th April 20045th July 201116th August 20111st December 2009
A new generation… 11th February 200913th August 201115th August 201117th August 201112th August 20117th September 201110th September 201112th September 201114th September 201115th September 201121st September 201126th September 201113th October 201114th October 201120th October 201127th October 2011
Plus ça change?
Afterword Two: Endless Grief
(from Epitaph, DGM 1997)
The UK Record Industry Survey 1993.
“The UK Record Industry Survey 1993” by Cliff Dane, page 96 on
the EG Group Ltd. (formerly EG Music Group Ltd.):
“For most of the period included in the table below (1984-91) the affairs and structure of the group were relatively straightforward. It owned EG Records Ltd, now Virgin EG Records, ... EG Music Ltd., a music publisher, music management and property interests. Through the period, the directors received substantial remuneration and from October 1988 onwards very large consultancy fees were paid to Athol & Co. Ltd. (formerly EG Management Ltd.) a company owned by Sam, Alder and Mark Fenwick which was taken out of the group in 1988. From the late eighties things seemed to start going wrong for the group. It is possible that losses on property interests were the key factor in initiating a rapid decline. The problems, shown in the results for 1990 and 1991, led the group to sell EG Records Ltd. to Virgin and EG Music Ltd. to BMG in April and June 1991 respectively. It was noted that the proceeds of these sales were sufficient to clear the group’s net liabilities though the 1991 accounts have not yet been filed to confirm a post-sale condition... It is also unclear whether the sale proceeds of Virgin EG Ltd. and EG Music Ltd. will be used to build a new group, be utilised in clearing past problems or be passed to the shareholders”.
The table indicates that the Last Annual Return was due 28/08/92, that the last accounts are late and that the accounts are overdue.
At the bottom of Page 86 Mr. Dane comments under “Significant Accounting Policies/Notes”:
“- The 1990 auditors’ report was qualified as the overseas subsidiary accounts had not been audited, the auditors were also unable to form an opinion on the recoverability of a debt of £ 4.0m from a company under the common control of two of the directors being Athol & Co. Ltd. There is no indication of how this debt arose.
- In 1990 consultancy fees of £292K (1989 - £269K) were paid to Athol & Co. Ltd., a company of which Alder & Fenwick were directors.
- The disclosure in the accounts makes it difficult to determine whether the total directors’ emoluments in the summary
table includes pension contributions or not. It is possible that directors’ emoluments in the summary table do not include pension contributions which have been as much as £100K per annum”.
King Crimson and EG began at the same time. The official birthday of King Crimson is January 13th. 1969, when rehearsals commenced in the basement of the Fulham Palace Cafe. The original agreement between KC and EG was that of partnership.
The quality of this agreement - with musicians/ management/businessmen as partners rather than parties with opposing
interests - distinguished the first phase in the life of EG from that of probably any other comparable managerial relationship of the time and helped make it an exceptional company: respected and admired in the business, and the home of some influential music.
Bryan Ferry took Roxy Music into EG at my recommendation, and following Eno’s departure from Roxy Music, EG Records became the catalogue home of King Crimson, Roxy Music, Robert Fripp, Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno and Bill Bruford related records.
David Enthoven, the “E” of EG, left the company in 1977. This was the end of the first EG period. The spirit of this period I would characterise as “realistic idealism between gentlemen in business”. The direction of the company was artist led and management based. The transition period was 1975/6 when copyrights, jointly shared by artists and management, were assigned by artists in favour of EG and a new series of licensing deals for both records and publishing were made.
In 1975 and 1976 various copyright assignments were made in EG’s favour by members of the original King Crimson. Michael Giles’ assignments to EG Music Ltd. are dated December 2nd. 1975 and Peter Sinfield’s December 19th. 1975. Peter Sinfield remembers asking Mr. Alder what would happen in the eventuality of the copyrights being sold and being told by Mr. Alder that in the event of a sale of copyrights, Peter would receive his share. Mr. Alder was “unable to recall” this as of July 1st. 1991 in response to an enquiry by David Ravden, the prominent music industry accountant, on behalf of Peter.
On February 22nd. 1976 my managers David Enthoven and Mr. Alder visited me at Sherborne House, Gloucestershire, where I was on retreat between October 1975 and July 1976. I was presented with documents assigning my publishing copyrights to EG Music, on the basis that this would enable EG during my retreat to “protect my interests, collect my royalties, and protect the copyrights at law around the world”. At this meeting I was assured that these assignments were necessary technicalities to enable my managers to protect my publishing interests. My understanding was that our relationship continued as before, as enshrined in the Willowfay Agreement of January 6th. 1970 and signed by all the members of the 1969 Crimson and EG.
It would not today be considered acceptable practice in the music industry for management to recommend a course of action which, even nominally, confers on them a clear benefit to the detriment of an artist following that advice, without
independent legal counsel being either recommended or consulted. Nowadays I am informed that a licence, rather than copyright assignments to EG Music, would have been sufficient for EG Management to “protect my interests, collect my royalties, and protect the copyrights at law around the world”.
David Enthoven accepts that the advice which I was given at the meeting of February 22nd. 1976 fell short of the ideal. Graciously, David wrote to me in 1991 apologising for the adverse affect upon my interests of his growing ill-health during the 1970s. This, I was happy to accept.
During 1976 David Enthoven’s health continued to decline. Mr. Alder increasingly took charge of the running of the EG companies. The original relationship with Island records as licensee ended and the Polydor relationship replaced it. In 1976/77 EG became “awash with money” (in the words of Tim Clarke, former head of Island) through the label advances from the new Polydor deal. (Advances from Island had been on an album-to-album basis). Formerly EG had financed itself and its artists as part of its management responsibilities and commitments of 1969. This mainly came out of “The EG Pot”, into which all income flowed and from which all money was dispersed on a messy and “need to have” basis.
In 1976 the Old Chelsea Group was formed, with consequences for all involved, and on July 6th. Messrs. Alder & Fenwick became directors of the Old Chelsea Group plc.
In June 1977 David Enthoven left EG after being told by Mr. Alder: “I never want to work with you ever again”.
The second EG period, approximately 1977-84, I have characterised (in 1992) as “tradesmen in business”. The direction of the music company was determined less by its artists and increasingly by its two partners, Sam Alder and Mark Fenwick, whose business interests by the end of this period had moved into property development and the Lloyd’s insurance market.
The direction of EG radically changed during this time. In the first period EG, a management company, went into publishing and records to protect the interests of their artists and their artists’ work. During the second period the emphasis within EG changed, in my view, from managing and protecting the interests of the artists to managing and protecting the interests of the managers. Arguably, the artists were managed in order to safeguard the supply of product to EG Records and EG Music.
Advances were paid to the EG companies on the music catalogues. At the end of the first period David Platz of Essex Music, the sub-publisher in the beginning years, refused to pay advances to EG Music unless the artists received their share. Mr. Alder changed the sub-publisher. I received no benefit from EG licensees’ advances, nor was I informed of the arrangements.
A key event in the transition between the second and third periods was the Polydor audit of 1982 (the licensee for the EG
Records catalogue) which yielded £300,000. This was dispersed in 1984 among the artists and EG Records on a pro rata basis, so Mr. Alder informed me at the time. On March 31st. 1984 Bryan Ferry received £6,291.00, approximately 2% of the total settlement, for his pro rata share of the £300,000. On June 30th. I received £2,114 and on December 31st. 1984 £3,599.68, totalling £5,713.68, approximately 1.9% of the Polydor settlement. It is surprising that my pro rata share of the catalogue was only marginally less than Bryan Ferry, member of the hugely successful Roxy Music and with a solo career to match.
(On August 28th. 1993 I wrote to John Whitehouse, of Hughes Allen, the EG Group auditor and also my auditor, and asked him for his opinion regarding the possible conflict of interest of Messrs. Alder & Fenwick dealing with Polydor, while representing both my interests as an artist and their interests as EG Records. Mr. Whitehouse replied, on September 20th. 1993, that he did “not necessarily see any potential conflict of interest in respect of the negotiations that took place between EG and Polydor. Surely, any negotiations that took place between them and Polydor would be on the basis to achieve the best available deal for both themselves and their artists”).
On June 20th. 1984 Messrs. Alder and Fenwick were appointed directors of the Old Chelsea Property Corporation. This marks the definitive change of direction at EG, in my considered opinion.
Mr. Alder took a major interest in Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy from the beginning of the 1980s, becoming its Treasurer and helping to establish it as a leading music industry charity. At that time, Mr. Alder anticipated a knighthood for his work. At this time, he remains on the Nordoff-Robbins committee and is a director of several of its related companies.
The EG music companies continued to use the original EG headed notepaper well into 1984, with David Enthoven’s name at the top of the list of Directors, seven years after David’s departure from EG. Although continuity from the early EG was maintained in the notepaper (albeit inaccurately) the spirit of EG created by its founding members and the first King Crimson was now very different. New headed notepaper appeared in 1985 following David’s insistence that his name be removed from the heading.
I believed my personal relationship with Messrs. Alder & Fenwick to be close. My professional relationship, following the
expiry of the original Willowfay Agreement of January 6th. 1970 in 1974 and David Enthoven’s departure in 1977, had continued on a verbal basis of mutual consent. At least, that is my understanding. In this situation EG managed my business affairs in their entirety while being both my record and publishing companies. They provided in-house accounting and legal services. The trust involved in a relationship this tight, with all the conflicts of interest, is rare. It can only work where the integrity and character of those in control is impeccable.
Messrs. Alder & Fenwick were proud of setting high standards in an industry notorious for its sharp practices, and Mr. Alder has assured me that he is “an honest, God-fearing family man” (1991). Their solicitor has stated that both are “renowned for their probity and sound business practices” (1993).
Nevertheless, the exceptional character apart, this kind of professional relationship is unlikely to be recommended to any artist by their advisers in the world of 1997.
The record industry, between 1969-78, was a growth industry which outstripped virtually any other. An ambitious businessman would have moved into records in the 1970s, as they would have moved into property during the 1980s. During the 1980s in England, particularly during the years 1984-8, the property market appeared unstoppable. Messrs. Alder & Fenwick extended their property interests into property development via the Old Chelsea Property Corporation (1984-92), acquired a security company, Yeoman, and went into the Lloyd’s insurance market as Names on thirteen syndicates (1985-91), represented firstly by the Chester agency (1985-88), and then by the Bromley agency (1989-91). (Roy Bromley committed suicide in 1991, one of the early Lloyd’s fatalities).
The third EG period 1984-91, then, was marked by a distinct change of emphasis away from music and into straight business. Music interests provided the capital base which initially supported the property and other interests. Two MDs were appointed to manage the affairs of the EG Music Group, from 1986-8 and 1988-91, leaving the partners freer to direct those other interests. The character and feel of the office was markedly different. As I experienced it, this was an office for suits and my presence was an intrusion. A photograph of Mr. Fenwick wearing a yellow Old Chelsea hard-hat on a development site, displayed on a mantlepiece at 63a, Kings Road, demonstrated the change more clearly than the new EG headed notepaper. The personal relationship between artist and management, which I still believed to be close, was infrequent. My managers’ interest was elsewhere.
The partners’ business interests were adversely affected by two main factors: firstly, the collapse of the property market after August 1988; and secondly, participation in Lloyd’s. The extent of the problems began to be frighteningly apparent to Names in the Autumn of 1990. The general decline of record sales in the growing UK recession compounded the problem of cash flow.
The proposed £21 million development based on the Villiers Hotel in the Isle of Man (Mr. Alder’s family interest) fell through. The developments at Fleming House, Danvers Street, and The White House, Old Church Street, adjoining sites in Chelsea, proved difficult. Meanwhile, high interest charges had to be met on loans of £1.85 million from Hoare & Co. and £300,000 from Coutts & Co., in addition to the ongoing costs of development.
The financial implications of these compounded events proved too much for the partners to sustain. EG developed problems in settling artists’ accounts throughout 1989 and 1990. Members of the original King Crimson, among others, experienced difficulties in getting their royalties paid in these two years. Finally, on January 1st. 1991 Messrs. Alder & Fenwick defaulted on royalty payments and were forced into the position of having to acknowledge this default in writing.
The official EG position - “The delay in royalty payments was due to an unexpected delay in the completion of the sale of E.G. Records Ltd. to Virgin” - I find difficult to understand. Virgin Records has not had to sell itself in order to pay its artist royalties: they make provision to meet their royalty commitments. I have no formal EG statement on whether the loan by the EG Music Group to Athol & Co. of £4,000,000 in 1989/90, and the £561,000 paid by the EG Music Group to Athol & Co. for supplying Messrs. Alder & Fenwick’s consultancy services back to their own music companies also during 1989-90 (see “The UK Record Industry Survey 1993” by Cliff Dane, page 96, above) had any bearing on this.
Messrs. SG Alder and MA Fenwick, the principals of EG Management, EG Records and EG Music, who had represented King Crimson and myself since 1969, sold the EG Records catalogue to Virgin in April 1991 and EG Music to BMG on July 1st. 1991, for a total estimated at around £4 - £4.5 million. The artists received no share of the proceeds. I believed myself to have a continuing interest in my copyrights, both phonographic and publishing.
At the beginning of this third period in the life of EG (1984-91), the partners appeared to be in an unassailable position: well established music catalogues and closely managed artists, property development, a security company, Lloyd’s, a growing pension fund, and fine homes in Chelsea and Wimbledon. At the end of the third period, the partners were property developers and Names in trouble.
I would characterise the third EG period as “ambitious businessmen overreach themselves”.
In 1991 the partners declared their return to artist management, which marks the beginning of the fourth period of EG in my interpretation. Bill Bruford and I were both informed by Messrs. Alder & Fenwick that “the future is in management”.
On the morning of May 17th. 1991 I received a telephone call from Mr. Alder at my wife’s studio flat in London: “The Main Men are back!”. The partners appeared to be bringing considerable energy to bear in attempting to reconnect with the music industry.
The new EG Recordings relationship with Virgin begun in 1991, and ended in 1992. The new publishing arrangement with BMG begun in 1991, and ended in 1993. The Old Chelsea Property Corporation went into voluntary liquidation on August 12th. 1992. The Yeoman security company was sold, and also the partners’ two homes, during 1991/92.
My High Court writ was served in March 1993 on Messrs. Alder & Fenwick and the EG companies, Virgin Records and BMG Publishing.
EG were featured on the front page of Music Week for four weeks running, with a fifth week inside, beginning June 19th. 1993. The first two articles concerned EG’s “pay-to-play” idea for promotional tv slots, its rejection by members of the industry, and subsequent apology by EG. The articles then turned to my own dispute with EG. EG threatened a libel action against Music Week (August 1993) but this was not forthcoming. I apologised to Messrs. Alder & Fenwick for my own frank comments, when threatened by a libel action several days before my mother’s death of cancer in July 1993. Shortly afterwards, I held her hand as she flew from this world.
Virgin Records and BMG Publishing did not pay great attention to my concerns over their acquisition of the EG catalogues until they received my writ. Subsequently, terms were agreed for an out-of-court settlement which included an acknowledgement that my copyrights are my property. BMG penalised Messrs. Alder & Fenwick for £50,000 from the staged payments in the purchase of EG Music under the terms of that sale.
On Monday 18th. April, 1994 Bill Bruford formally resigned from EG Management, the first day he was able to do so under the terms of his recently renegotiated management contract. The following day Peter Smith, who had been responsible for Bill’s interests within EG Management, was asked to leave. His employment contract, due to expire several weeks later, was not in any case going to be renewed. On Friday, when Peter returned to clear his desk, the locks had been changed.
In 1994 EG Radio was formed.
In 1995 63a, Kings Road became the office of the Bromley 405 Lloyd’s Names action group with Mr. Alder as chairman of its litigating committee fighting a negligence action. Ironically my former manager’s interests had, allegedly, been mismanaged.
In 1995 Mr. Fenwick left 63a, Kings Road, Mr. Alder and EG, and turned his fuller attention to the family firm of Fenwick’s. He is quoted as being “in the rag trade now”.
On April 18th. 1996 The Evening Standard business section featured an article on the successful outcome of the Bromley 405 Lloyd’s Names action group, who had become the fourth spiral group to win its negligence action in court. “The victory is a personal triumph for Sam Alder ... a one-time Ernst & Young accountant who made his money in the music industry managing, among others, Bryan Ferry, in his heyday...” (with a photo of Bryan Ferry above). “Alder’s skill was to see that the case had to be got to court quickly. To do that he had to simplify the case massively to focus on an absolute minimum number of issues and ruthlessly jettison anything remotely superfluous. Other action groups less prepared to be brutal are still struggling under a paper mountain to prepare their cases... Alder’s gamble came off splendidly. The court case lasted a week, the total cost was only £600,000 out of the 4 million chest the Names had assembled, and the deal has come through just in time to improve the Names’ status in Lloyd’s rescue plan. `My real advantage was working in the music industry,’ Alder says. `We are used to litigation. We do it all the time.’”
I am happy that Mr. Alder’s simplification, ruthless jettisoning, preparedness to be brutal, and gambling (to use the terminology of the Standard) came off so successfully. I have a lot of sympathy for anyone finding their affairs to have been prejudiced by persons in positions of responsibility who, while nominally representing their clients’ interests, fail to do so.
The fourth period of EG history is continuing. Anyone casually passing 63a, Kings Road might look up and see Mr. Alder in a meeting, or with his back to the window in his office, on the first floor.
The Independent characterised the business culture of the 1980s as “a culture of greed, characterised by the abuse of trust”. This is an assessment with which I would have dificulty disagreeing. The highly visible scandals of Lloyd’s, BCCI, Maxwell, Leeson, are only the most highly visible. The music industry can point to its own scandals. More worrying for the future is the collapse of trust, and faith, in professional institutions and people.
Justice is a requirement, even a necessity, for any viable society. Where legal institutions fail to provide a readily available and straightforward justice, people will inevitably tend towards their own remedies and seek their own forms of common justice. This is dangerous.
Rough Music has a future.
In the second week of December 1996 closing letters of agreement in the out-of-court settlement between myself and EG were exchanged between our respective solicitors. Ironically, at the same time, I opened a file pulled from a box which had been stored in our dining room for nine years - in six years of dispute I have been unable to find time to clear the room. The file was the Willowfay Agreement of January 6th. 1970, signed by the original members of King Crimson and EG, the key document in my litigation with Messrs. Alder & Fenwick, and missing until the final days of the settlement.
On the evening of Wednesday 8th. January, 1997, I signed four Deeds of settlement, each dated December 24th. 1996. Mr. Fenwick’s signature was witnessed by Chris Kettle, former King Crimson roadie from the Larks’ Tongues period, now EG employee of some twenty years, and the person formerly responsible for my interests within EG, formerly responsible for managing my interests. I had been managed by EG for 21 years and 3 months, and in dispute with them for six years.
I have been asked what I gained from six years of dispute and litigation. This requires answers from several directions, and deserves better than I am able to offer here. The quick answers are these:
1. Everyone lost, despite improvements in the royalty terms and conditions by Virgin and BMG. This is the condition of the world.
2. The first rule of applied art is to turn a seeming disadvantage to our advantage. The greater the seeming disadvantage, the greater the possible advantage. This is the condition of the artist.
3. A supreme personal challenge in a nominally Christian culture. This is the condition of our aspiration.
4. Continuing education in the life of a professional musician. This is the condition of the professional.
In sum, I hope to have begun the second half of my professional life with the commitment I brought to the first half.
The settlement is close to the sixth anniversary of EG’s acknowledged default on royalty payments, and the 28th. anniversary of the first King Crimson rehearsal.
Whenever music appears for the first time, or as if for the first time, a door opens through which hope may enter our sorry world. The price of going through that door is very high.
12.37 An interesting postscript to the above, from a few months later. In 1998 David Singleton attended an industry seminar in London. There was mucho interest at the time in how new technology would impact the music industry; like, companies could have their own websites. David arrived at the venue a little early, and was one of only two attendees then present. The other person came over to David and introduced himself: Sam Alder. I’m with a small company, you won’t have heard of us - EG. David replied: David Singleton. I’m with DGM.
Several reports had reached me of Samuel G Alder Esq. sightings at industry seminars, although Mr. Alder’s participation in the industry effectively ended in 1991, and was all-over-bar-the-twitching in 1993. Mr. Alder himself claimed to a former EG employee (New York, 1997): I’m a gentleman farmer now!
Mr. Alder continued to David: There were two things: the copyrights and the royalties. The copyrights were easy: we owned them, we sold them. The royalties: yes, there were problems with the royalties.
There were also problems with the KC/RF copyrights. Messrs. Alder and Fenwick, when David was ejected from EG by Mr. Alder in 1977, bought David’s copyright interests, which included KC/RF despite the prejudiced and flawed nature of those assignments. Accordingly, when my Writ was served on EG in 1993, David Enthoven was threatened by Messrs. Alder and Fenwick in a corresponding action, in the eventuality that my action was successful and the KC/RF copyright assignments found to be flawed. Yet, Mr. Alder was the person who, on February 22nd. 1976, accompanied David Enthoven to Sherborne House, looked me in the eyes and lied.
I am prepared to accept that Mr. Alder may have overlooked or forgotten this, and believed EG to have had rights to KC/RF copyrights. However, the music seminar in 1998 is the first occasion I know where Mr. Alder acknowledged problems with the royalties in an unequivocal fashion. Under the Settlement Agreement, Messrs. Alder and Fenwick are protected from any action against them in respect of Endless Grief. But there are many ways to pay a bill, and my sense is that all debts are eventually paid, willingly or otherwise.
17.56 Returning from shopping and lunch, to World HQ. Reading…
… and tidying. A surprise visit from the Minx, and a showing-around the office.
Closing down with a little e-flurry. Twenty-one years after the crunch-events described above, this
Banks failed to heed public anger, warns BoE governor Sir Mervyn King
British banks have failed to listen to public anger over their behaviour and are guilty of double standards, the Bank of England governor has claimed.
In an outspoken attack, Sir Mervyn King, 63, said senior executives were in denial about their actions amid “very real and wholly understandable” animosity.
Accusing the banks of double standards, he said families and customers were lectured on living within their means by financial institutions that needed public money from bailouts when the financial crisis hit.
Sir Mervyn, who earns £305,000 a year, said anger against the banks was “very real and wholly understandable” and dismissed attacks by banks that he had failed to offer enough support during the crisis.
“I think it is because they found it very, very difficult to face up to the failure of their banking model,” he told The Times. “That model needs to be restructured. My duty was to the United Kingdom economy as a whole and not just to one part of it.
“Market discipline can’t apply to everyone except banks.”
… plus c'est la même chose?
20.12 Loading, carrying, organizing. Supper and a MinxWalk around the town…