Sunday, December 02, 2018

Elliot Roberts Interview: A Revealing Discussion on "The Music Business"

Here is a very rare interview with Elliot Roberts.

Elliot Roberts has been Neil Young's Manager for over 40 years now, as well as many, many other artists such as Joni Mitchell.

From New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Sync Up interview by Warren Zanes on Feb. 28, 2018, a quite revealing discussion on music and "The Business". Note, that there are audio issue with Elliot's microphone, unfortunately.

Elliot Roberts, Neil Young's manager, was characterized in the biography "Shakey" by Jimmy McDonough this way:
    "There have been other infamous artist/manager teams in rock and roll – Dylan and Albert Grossman. Ray Charles and Joe Adams, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Landau – and, of course, Elvis and Colonel Tom Parker. Elliot Roberts definitely resides in that hall of infamy – and is the only human capable of guiding Neil Young's career." 
    "Neil likes quirky people around him," said Elliot Roberts, Young's manager since the late sixties. "I think having quirky people around him lessens-in his mind-his own quirkiness. 'Yes, I am standing on my head, but look at these two other guys nude standing on their head.' " His mane of gray hair flying, Roberts was on his ninety-sixth phone call of the day, either chewing out some record-company underling or closing a million-dollar deal. Not far away, a bearded, sunglassed David Briggs- Young's producer-prowled the stage, palming a cigarette J.D.-style and looking like the devil himself. 
     Briggs and Roberts were the twin engines that powered the Neil Young hot rod. Feared, at times hated, both men possessed killer instincts and had been with Neil almost from the beginning. Roberts was a genius at pushing Young's career, Briggs at pushing his art. It's an understatement to say the two didn't always see eye to eye. Roberts and Briggs were two of the quirkiest characters around- difficult, complicated men-but then so was just about everybody and everything in Young's world. 
    "Let's look at Neil's whole trip-the ranch, the people he plays with," said computer wizard Bryan Bell, who worked extensively with Young in the late eighties. " 'Easy' isn't in the vocabulary."
Also, see interview with Elliot Roberts and Larry Johnson & Elliot Roberts Interview on Greendale.

Neil Young and Elliot Roberts, Manager
American Way Inflight Magazine, August 2016


  1. My sincere apologies for this being off-topic, so please bear with me. I was thinking what a great year it was again for NY fans, especialy with the Crazy Horse reunion for a handful of shows at the beginning of May. It gave me (and goes without saying a lot of us) a huge hope there will be at least one more US and European tour somewhere in the future. But Poncho wasn't there and all we got was "for undisclosed reasons". I need to know if the reason meant an end of NY&CH as we know it or can we still hope. Come on, there is someone there "in the know" with the (f)actual explanation. Bring it on, we can take it.

  2. I feel you, I asked NYA about CH and they said they cant say whether or not the horse going back on tour.
    I read in a poncho interview he wanted to go out with a bang and "share something special with the audience."

    I really hope they announce some shows. Its a miracle they're all still alive and able to play. Gotta get down to it..

  3. @izzy: Reports at the time (based on Facebook posts by his partner, apparently) were that Poncho had started practicing in advance of the gigs, but got sick. There's also been talk that he's grown less interested in leaving Hawaii for any length of time.

  4. That's a helluva interview, an inside story of the relationships and some of the rationale and perspective of manager/artist and some outlines to the real purpose on both sides. Elliot is very well spoken and obviously versed at the in and outs of the business. Nice to get it first hand from the horses mouth. The 'don't want my mp3' stance is paramount to where things are at and have been at for a while, with hope that things are on the change, which now is evident from Neil's Archive website. I think it still takes some upgraded mechanicals to get the resolution response thru digital (I'm not hearing it all yet) but at least that commitment is there and will continue through. Great post and worth the time to listen. Thanks T.

  5. Thanks thrasher,

    A truly superb informative, and no bullshit interview.

    I knew Elliot had been around with various artists for a several decades, but his roster of clients is just incredible.

    And his take on the full and detailed background, of the destructive trend of streaming artists work for $12 per million plays online is just incredible. I have heard many takes on how difficult it is to get on, in music, but no one described it in simple terms, as well as Elliot.

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