Thursday 15 April 2004

The Basement Chateau Belew One


The Basement, Chateau Belew.

One proper response to being alive is joy. A second is gratitude.

06.27 A party --


An orgy --


08.18 Yesterday, Ken the Conquering Hero brought back the 48th.Street guitar from the guitar repairer. The repairer found no problem with the intermittent cutting-out of the bridge pickup. I did, as soon as I plugged it in - the same fault that sent it away to be repaired. From zero level, the volume moved to exceptionally quiet. Following a tinkering-about with screwdriver, balancing the pick-up's internal levels between top & bottom strings, then balancing the fingerboard pickup, mysteriously the bridge pick-up returned to active duty. No idea how or why. But now it works & when I plugged it in, it didn't.

The perversity of material objects?

08.39 In the e-mail this morning, from a well-placed music biz insider, a new arising in the land of virtual car-boot sales, AKA e-bay --

20.48 Twins --


And in the recent news --

Mr. Alder, the "honest, God-fearing family man" (his own words), a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (although he failed his finals), a freemason, adviser to the Prince's Trust, a member of the Silver Clef committee fundraising for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy (of which Mr. Alder was Treasurer for several years), the "Good Guy That You Can Trust" (his words), the (former) artist manager "renowned for his Probity and Sound Business Practices" (the words of his solicitor), who "has Nothing To Hide - what has he done?" (his own words), a "Big Boy Caught With His Pants Down" (his own words again), a Backroom Boy at EG in 1970 who aspired to the Front Office (which, given the catastrophic collapse of EG, was arguably beyond his grasp) rarely draws much public attention to his business activities. A rare delight, then, for those who follow Mr. Alder's interests with an interest of their own --

Not long ago, Mr. Alder presented himself (to a former EG employee) in these words: I'm a gentleman farmer now! I am unable to comment on the veracity of the claim, although Mr. Alder may be a farmer. However, according to these online news reports, Mr. Alder's status has changed: media entrepreneur Sam Alder. Mr. Alder is part owner of a radio station --

02 April 2004

THE MEN behind the latest company to be granted a radio licence say they hope their station will be on air by the end of the year and will cater for a BBC Radio Two-type market.

Athol Radio Ltd has been working on the application for 18 months and received news of the success from the Communications Commi-ssion on Monday.

Behind the station is Ron Berry, former Manx Radio presenter and director of advertising firm The Agency, former Manx Radio presenter and sales and marketing manager George Ferguson, and businessman Sam Alder.

The address, given in the reports, of Athol Radio Ltd. is the same address as accountants Messrs. Alder Dodsworth & Co. - 22, Athol Street, Douglas, Isle of Man, UK, IM1 1JA --

What's in a name? Athol & Co. was the company lent some £4 million by the EG Music Group in the period 1988-91. Both Athol & Co. and the EG Music Group were under the common control of the two partners in EG, Messrs. Alder & Fenwick.

Athol & Co., its finances supported by the loans from EG Music, in turn supported the finances of Messrs. Alder & Fenwick. The financial viability of the partners had been extremely prejudiced by the drop in the property market (impacting the partners' Old Chelsea Property Co.) & large cash calls on them as Lloyd's Names, members of the Marine 475 insurance syndicate. Some of the £4 million lent by the EG Music Group to Athol & Co. was drawn from my (unpaid) record royalties from EG Records (on which EG Management also deducted 25% for "managing" my affairs).

Mr. Alder covered the deficit in my financial affairs, caused through his non-payment of my income, by arranging borrowing on my behalf (as my business manager with power of attorney) at Coutts & Co, Sloane Square. In effect, Mr. Alder created a form of forced (and undisclosed) borrowing from myself to Messrs. Alder & Fenwick (via Athol & Co.) and on which forced borrowing I also paid the interest.

The success of the EG Music Group was based largely on their ownership of their managed artists' phonographic & publishing copyrights. My own copyright assignments to EG were made on the basis (as explained to me at Sherborne House on February 22nd. 1976 by Mr. Alder himself) that the assignments were necessary for EG to:

1. protect my interests;
2. collect my royalties;
3. protect the copyrights around the world.

This advice, given to me by Mr. Alder, was regrettably inaccurate: a licence to EG would have had the same effect, and my copyright interests would have remained mine. The effect of the advice was to favour EG at my expense (and similarly for the other Crimsons).

These are examples of a manager's conflict of interest being wilfully exploited to advantage his own position, to the detriment of a managed artist owed a professional duty of care, if not the personal duty of care instinctively recognised & accepted by a gentleman.

This is the quick story. The longer story is an interesting one waiting to be told, with documents waiting to be scanned & presented online; it will be a research archive for those wishing to discover the mechanics of the music business in the 1970s & 1980s, some of its characters and business practices of the period. It is also a microcosm of the period & the widespread collapse of trust in professional bodies and "the word of a gentleman"; the weakening of controlling authority in the networks of public school contacts; and the abdication of responsibility towards clients in many areas of business.

Meanwhile, in the contemporary world of media ownership, a bona fide question that might be raised is whether the personal character of those involved in ownership of broadcasting should be above reproach. This is perhaps one of several further enquiries that might be directed to the appropriate parties.