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Friday, June 21, 2019

Elliot Roberts: 1943 - 2019

UPDATE: Neil Young News: "The greatest manager of all time": Neil Young’s Statement on Elliot Roberts

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

Elliot Roberts, Neil Young's -- and many other artists -- manager has passed away.

Today (Friday June 21), Harvey Goldsmith announced on Facebook that Elliot Roberts, the music manager and label exec who played a key role in the careers of artists like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, has died.

Roberts formed Lookout Management with David Geffen and founded Geffen’s Asylum Records in 1970.

David Geffen, Elliot Roberts, & Neil Young
Frame from 'Inventing David Geffen': American Masters
(Click photo to enlarge)

Here is a very rare interview with Elliot Roberts from 2018.

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.

Marc Benioff, MC Hammer, Neil Young and Elliot Roberts
Dreamforce 2011

Also, see Elliot Roberts - Neil Young's Manager:
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."

Joni Mitchell w/ Elliot Roberts
Carnegie Hall, 1969 - Photo by Joel Bernstein

An interview with Elliott Roberts by Paul Makos from the Neil Young Appreciation Society publication 'Broken Arrow', May 25, 1982.

Neil Young, Jonathan Demme & Elliot Roberts
Neil Young Journeys Film Premiere - Toronto Film Festival

too late, too soon, he sleeps with angels...

Neil Young & Joni Mitchell w/ Elliot Roberts- ~1985
Recording Session for "Tears Are Not Enough"

rust in peace Mr. Elliot.

Elliot Roberts with Stephen Stills
CSNY - Music Scene TV - 1969

Photo by Jeff Allen

Friend James Mazzeo:
"Elliot Roberts lived at Ground Zero in the Land of Rock & Roll.....his expert guidance got all of us Artist through the myriad of mine fields that could end a successful career.
In his presence we were the needy, and he was our crutch that we leaned on any time of night or day to keep us moving towards our enthusiastic goals the times demanded. He was our Oracle and we went to him for answers that we could trust and fortify ourselves with.
Elliot always fought and protected those Artist who were lucky enough to have a place in his Heart and his
Rest in Eternal Peace dear Friend."
UPDATE: Neil Young News: "The greatest manager of all time": Neil Young’s Statement on Elliot Roberts

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At 6/21/2019 07:56:00 PM, Blogger Hounds That Howl said...

Elliot may your memory be a blessing. You were always standing in the wings. Now you will be resting in our hearts.

From Crazy Horse, “Yes, today we lost...his wit, his humor, his deep love for us..this one truly in peace Elliot..loved you deeply...”

Love and always love. Howell

At 6/21/2019 08:57:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks Hounds That Howl. You speak for many rusties around the world.

Undoubtedly, Neil's career would have been different if ended up in Geffen's hands -- or virtually anyone else in the Business, as McDonough points out in Shakey bio.

Of course, wee did have our fun here @ TW at Elliot's expense over the years. In particular, our April Fool's interviews with Elliot on

Free Neil Young Warmup Concerts Cancelled

Behind The Scenes at the "Americana" Album Playback Session

Word had it that Elliot was mildly amused.

Well, if we got a chuckle out of Elliot over the years, then we'll consider it a blog well done.

one of these days, one of these days ...

At 6/22/2019 09:40:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

via Jim McKelvey:

Was having a very good solstice up until hearing this news booking a cabin for Cayamo 2020. Pretty sure I also discovered a sun dagger for the summer solstice at Pilot Mountain in North Carolina that is very similar to the Chaco Canyon one in New Mexico today but came home to find out Elliott Roberts had passed away.

Had just sent Elliott Roberts via the NYA a bunch of scans of original contracts he had signed for Joni Mitchell to play the Canterbury House in Ann Arbor along with a hand written thank you note he had sent them plus a bunch of reviews. NYA acknowledged they'd received them and passed them on a month or so ago.

So sad to hear this news as I'd had a professional relationship with him since the Rust Never Sleeps tour.

Remember after the Shocking Pinks show in Lansing backstage at the Civic Center he asked me if I had the CSNY issue for the '74 tour of Rolling Stone. Found I had two copies at home and sent him one of them for the archives way back in the '80's. Always sent him tear sheets of what I'd written about and he was very generous with tickets and passes.

Remember introducing my oldest son to Elliott backstage with Lookout Mama during the '96 tour. Told us both to go talk to Neil gesturing with his hand and said he was nobody but I told my son this is the guy that makes it all happen for Neil right back at him. That made him smile.

The first time I met Elliott Roberts was at the soundboard at Pine Knob Music Theater outside Detroit. Was a cub reporter on my second assignment for the Ypsilanti Press. Because I was press I got my 5th row aisle tickets and was the first one in the venue. Elliott was standing at the soundboard and I said he looked like someone on the inside of the David Crosby album and even said the position the picture was in since there were a bunch. He introduced himself to me and we chatted for good while. When I asked if I could get a set list he said at the moment the show ends he would be on the left side of the stage waiting for me and would answer any questions. I got all the correct new song titles and then we started talking about "Powderfinger." He told me I had it all wrong since I sort of went off on the Emmylou reference but that art was personal and he couldn't tell me what it was about or words to that effect. My review hit the streets at 3:00 PM the following day before the second show and might have been the first one published of the tour. So, thanks to Elliott I got all the song titles right.

Remember looking from the soundboard and telling Elliott those were the largest speakers I'd ever seen and from a distance they looked real. Of course, I got to my seat and was bright red with embarrassment.

Over the years I must have run into Elliott a dozen or more times and have to say that guy had a lot of soul.

Last time I saw him was at the Farm Aid in Raleigh and got a few images of him on the side of the stage early in the day but didn't get a chance to speak with him. Because there were so many photographers they let me use my photo pass from my seat in the 9th or 10th row center.

Always thought I'd see him down the road somewhere...

At 6/22/2019 05:30:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

Let's never forget or underestimate the importance of Elliot Roberts to everything that Neil has done. Like Briggs, Ben Keith, and Pegi, this is a loss that cuts deep. Not just a great manager, but an unbeatable character. Elliot and Neil were like peanut butter and jelly.


At 6/22/2019 05:30:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6/22/2019 05:55:00 PM, Blogger Jim said...

So shocked at his passing spelled his first name wrong. Where is my editor?

At 6/22/2019 08:31:00 PM, Blogger Setz said...

In Spartanburg SC Elliot walked down the ramp to tell us Neil wouldn't have time for autographs per arriving late. He was right in front of us as he made this claim to maybe twenty fans. I asked him if I could get his autograph instead. he asked "why,I'm nobody". I told him I knew who he was and please may I. He granted the wish humbly, and added a heart to his name. Then told us we were in for something really special tonight. Neil came to greet us any way and grinned when he signed under Elliot. What a life and influence.

At 6/22/2019 10:49:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

RIP Elliot!! Thanks for your lifetime of service!!

At 6/23/2019 05:51:00 AM, Blogger Mike said...

I remember we drove from the Bronx to Greenwich
Village one night in the late 1960’s where you first met Joni. The rest is history
R.I.P. My old friend


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