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Cutler & The Wurzels' manager 1966-1987)
June 1966, Adge Cutler 'broke
into' band manager John Miles' office with demos,
and the idea of Adge Cutler & The Wurzels was conceived. John
would remain the band's manger through the evolution of the band,
and lead them through the death of Adge, their rise in and fall
from pop fame, and after EMI dropped them, set up his own label
to continue releasing their material. Although 1987 has been stated
as when John ceased as The Wurzels manager, it might have been as
early as 1983 when The Wurzels stopped releasing material on John's
own label. Confirmation either way would be appreciated.
often said that the only way to succeed in many walks of life is
by moving to London as that's where it all happens – especially
in the heady world of show business.
that hoary old tale has been turned on its head by John Miles, one
of the country's leading and most respected showbiz managers and
I pick up the phone to deal with people in London, I'm looking out
of my office window across wonderful countryside with the Mendip
Hills on the skyline. What better environment could you ask for?"
coming up to celebrate 50 years in the business, a remarkable achievement
in such a cut-throat industry, and now represents some of the best-known
people in radio and television, including Carol Vorderman and Noel
the early days, you didn't exist if you didn't have an office in
Mayfair with marble steps up to the door. That was what was expected
of showbiz managers then," says John. "When
I started I had to go up to London twice a week. That was three
and a half hours up, and three and a half hours back. That was before
the motorway came."
the tables have been turned, and programme producers head west from
the hustle and bustle of the capital for the tranquillity of the
Somerset countryside for meetings with John.
proud Bristolian, he started his business from his parents' home
in Clifton Wood, later moving into offices on the busy Whiteladies
Road. More than 30 years ago, he crossed the river Avon into Somerset
and bought a secluded, run-down property in the Gordano Valley.
Since then, he's extended it into offices and a luxury home which
befits someone running a multi-million pound showbiz empire. It's
the sort of home that's featured in glossy magazines about country
homes. It all started for John when he was growing lettuces, and
was approached by a friend who led a semi-pro pop group called Daryl
Grant and the Descants.
asked me if I would like to manage them," says John. "They
were getting £2 a show and that was between the five of them.
I managed to get them £5 a show. In
a very short time, they had more bookings than they could cope with,
so I took on more groups through into the early Sixties," says
John, who was taking the-then customary 10 per cent commission.
next few years were really exciting. When the Liverpool scene happened
with the Beatles, I was handling bookings for more than 300 groups.
Forty of them worked full-time in Germany, including playing at
the famous Star Club," he adds.
has fond memories of the record hit one of his bands, The Cougars,
had in 1960 with a quirkily titled number Saturday Nite at the Duckpond.
BBC's Light Programme (predecessor of Radio 1) banned it because
it was a rocked-up version of a classical piece, Tchaichovsky's
Swan Lake. I
got copies of the record to Radio Luxembourg and they played it
to death," he recalls. "After
eight years of managing pop groups and feeling I'd only slept eight
hours in eight years, I wanted to concentrate on just a few acts."
One of those was Adge Cutler and the Wurzels, whose pop history
has become the stuff of musical legend.
was something different. He was writing songs about manure, cider
and Somerset villages," says John, who signed him up in 1966.
Wurzels, with their "scrumpy and western" sound, entered
the pop charts with songs such as Drink up thy Zider, putting the
West Country on the musical map with a national television series
and numerous radio appearances. Sadly,
Adge died in a road accident while driving back from a concert in
Hereford in 1974. The Wurzels are still going strong, keeping Adge's
songs alive, although John stopped managing them after 21 years.
felt I'd done everything I could for them, getting them enormous
record success including a number one hit with Combine Harvester,"
he says. "I also helped them to get to number three in the
charts with I am a Cider Drinker, plus many more. We're still great
friends, though." John also represented nine Radio 1 disc-jockeys,
all of whom were household names.
entrepreneurial flair came to the front when he became ringmaster
of the station's travelling pop show, watched by thousands of holidaymakers
on beaches nationwide and heard by millions more on radio. He
built the Radio 1 Road Show travelling stage, equipped with some
of the most sophisticated electronic wizardry to put the programme
on air every summer weekday. It was driven from resort to resort
by his brother Tony, who quickly became known, on and off air, as
Smiley Miley. BBC Enterprises also gave John and Tony a licence
to sell novelties ranging from sun visors to sticks of rock with
the Radio 1 logo.
Tony was driving around the country, I was back here looking after
the business side. We did that for 21 years," says John.
his career he's promoted shows, booked the Beatles and the Kinks
at local gigs for £25, and £35 a night, run his own
record company and published a pop magazine, Bristol Beat. Today,
John manages 16 TV presenters. Besides Noel Edmonds, whom he's known
for 35 years, and Carol Vorderman, who he has represented for more
than 20, his cast list includes Des O'Connor, Timmy Mallett, Martin
Bashir and Nick Knowles. He also manages the estate of the late
look after everything they do, whether they write books, make DVDs,
TV shows or appearances. I'm
there to build them up, organise their careers, and make the right
decisions. Hopefully I do, but your head is on the chopping block
all the time," he says.
he's never given an artist a contract. "Modern thinking is
everyone wants a contract, but they trust me and I trust them,"
he says. "No paperwork changes hands. It's all done on a handshake.
But, of course, I have contracts with television companies, producers
and other people who book my clients."
from tragedy in his business life with the death of Adge Cutler,
John has also suffered personal tragedy, losing his first wife,
Gloria, to cancer. He's now been married to Lyn for 17 years. John
also helps to raise millions of pounds to help cancer sufferers
through his chairmanship, for the past 15 years, of the Friends
of Bristol Oncology Centre. He
heads the prostate cancer care and research centre appeal at Southmead
Hospital, too; is chairman of the Gloria Miles Cancer Foundation;
and is involved with stem cell research at Hammersmith Hospital.
is 67, but has no plans to slow down. "I never want to retire,"
he says. "It's a fantastically exciting life. I still get as
excited as I did in the early years handling the careers of my current
stable of very talented stars. The only reason I started to manage
groups was to raise enough money so I could buy more greenhouses
for the lettuces. But I never did! I've had many interesting offers
to move to London and set up agencies. But
I love Bristol and was determined to make a success in my home town.
I feel it's more of an achievement to have done it here."
from He's The Star Man article in the
Daily Press website, posted Saturday 27th December 2008]
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