The School of Rock: Lessons Learned from A
‘We’re all performing, so perform well!’ he says
If you’re a kid who likes good music and a good time, you could do worse than to grow up in NYC in the mid-1950s and ‘60s. For Ed Kleinman, who has always loved blues, jazz, folk, rock and new-wave punk, it was an unprecedented time and place in history.
“On an off night, in one club alone, you might see Bob Dylan stroll in and do a set, or Van Morrison, Ritchie Havens – just about anyone who was around; I remember Jimi Hendrix playing for three days at the Café Au Go Go after he quit playing as the opening act on the Monkees’ tour,” says Kleinman, who eventually went to work as a roadie for some of rock and roll’s biggest legends. He discusses his 18-year trip in his new book, now featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s library, titled “Joint Venture … A Backstage Rock and Roll Journey,” (www.jointventurejourney.com).
“You start off helping friends move gear, and you later find yourself taking on more work and responsibility until you’re almost a member of the band. I was a kid from a working-class neighborhood and, if you did a good job, a band would take you around the country and around the world. That’s a big deal – you get the lifestyle of a rock star, you hear great live music all the time, and you don’t have to pay some of the heavy tolls, like living life in the spotlight.”
Kleinman eventually became a manager of bands, including The Stranglers, an English punk rock band that accomplished 23 UK top 40 singles and 17 UK top 40 albums. He would also rub elbows with the industry’s biggest names, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Eventually, Kleinman parlayed his people and management skills into the corporate world and became an executive coaching entrepreneur. The most salient theme that he’s been able to deduce throughout from his diverse careers? The importance of performance.
“Whether you’re a rock star, roadie, sales manager or school bus driver, you need to be on your game,” he says. “Everyone is working for some kind of audience, so why wouldn’t you want to rock it each time out?”
Special Guest: Ed Kleinman
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