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Simon Napier-Bell

Rock manager and author

Simon Napier-Bell has been a music manager since the 60s. Amongst the many acts he has managed are The Yardbirds, Tyranosaurus Rex, Marc Bolan, Japan, Sinitta, Wham!, Candi Staton, Asia, Boney M, and Ultravox.

In the 1960s he was also a songwriter and wrote the lyrics for the Elvis Presley and Dusty Springfield hit 'You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me'. He also worked in films, editing Burt Bacharach’s score for 'What’s New Pussy Cat' and writing the score for Here 'We Go Round the Mulberry Bush'.

In the 1970s, he produced records for many artists including The Scaffold, Peter Sarstedt, Francoise Hardy, Forever More (an early version of The Average White Band), and John Paul Young. He also became the manager of British rock group Japan.

In the 1980s he became the manager of Wham! (comprising Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael) and spent two years negotiating with the Chinese government for Wham! to become the first Western pop or rock group to play in China.

These days Simon writes, broadcasts and lectures throughout the world on the music business. He does consultancy on entertainment business issues and marketing in Asian markets. He has written three successful books...

“Black Vinyl White Powder” - said by the Sunday Telegraph to be “One of the most authoritative, intelligent, diligently researched, conscientiously indexed, and thoroughly unpretentious disquisitions on the history of the British pop scene yet written”. And by the Times Educational Supplement, to be “compelling and authoritative”.

“I’m Coming To Take You To Lunch” - about taking Wham! to China, voted ‘Book of the Year’ by Rainbow Network.

“You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” - about his experiences in the British music business in the Sixties, Voted No 11 in The Observer’s ‘Top 50 Music Books of All Time’.

Fat and Fulfilled

At 18 I had a waist you could put your arm round, just 26 inches. But in the mirror this morning I found myself looking at something the circumference of a bicycle wheel. It's restaurants that did it. All my life I've been a restaurant freak; they're where I function best.
15/02/2012 12:05 GMT

Drugs - Legal and Illegal but All Rather Stimulating

Last week Sir Richard Branson and Alan McGee were amongst people who wrote pieces in favour of decriminalising illegal drugs. They both say they once used them but don't now. My position is different; I'm an addict. At least, I think I am, though not of anything illegal.
31/01/2012 22:25 GMT

Save the World! Oh Dear, Do We Really Have To?

The International Energy Agency says that global warming will be beyond the point of no return in five years, and since there's nothing in the pipeline to reverse it before that time, it means we're doomed. And on that basis, I say let's enjoy ourselves while we can.
24/01/2012 22:21 GMT

Popes And Vile Tongues

Last week, the odious piety of Pope Benedict was again on display as he canted about the evils of homosexuality. While addressing the diplomatic corps at the Vatican, he said gay marriage could undermine "the future of humanity itself".
17/01/2012 22:53 GMT

Eva Tanguay - A Rock Star Before Rock Existed

Tanguay was the biggest star of the time. She died 65 years ago this week, but her highpoint was one hundred years ago, during the first two decades of the 20th Century. There had never been anyone like her before. Nor was there afterwards. Not until Madonna and Lady Gaga dug up her soul and re-inhabited it.
10/01/2012 23:46 GMT

Michael Jackson - No Sympathy for a Loser

If ever a career was going to end in tears, it was Jackson's. You compared the seething anger in <em>Billy Jean</em>, or the livid fury of <em>Beat It</em>, with that daft Lady Veronica speaking voice. And you saw it at once - Vesuvius with the lid on.
05/10/2011 11:52 BST

Rock And Roll People, I Hate You

Last month the Court of Appeal decided Segways couldn't be used on pavements. It's a pity, because they appeared to be safe and easy to ride, at least for people who are good at staying on things. Not so good, perhaps, for people with a track record of falling off.
28/09/2011 08:37 BST

Caprice de Femme

This month, London's Caprice restaurant is celebrating its thirtieth birthday. Actually, it's not thirty years old at all - it's sixty. The Caprice opened in the late 40s and became an instant hit with the post-war film and theatre set. In the 1950s, I was taken there for lunch by my father. He was a documentary film director and amongst the other directors in the same company was Lindsay Anderson. Despite being passionately left-wing, they both liked a good lunch.
20/09/2011 23:43 BST

Bottoms - Clean And Dirty

This week's subject is not too tasty. Age 11, on an exchange visit to France, I discovered the bidet. Its absence in all other Western countries has puzzled me ever since. And poses a question...
14/09/2011 11:36 BST

LGBT? Not for me!

Only indifference will overcome prejudice. Beautiful indifference. And thankfully in Britain these days it's on the increase.
07/09/2011 10:10 BST

Jedward's Trousers

Those Jedward trousers are just too ridiculous to keep quiet about any longer. Its not their bum-to-ankle skin-tightness I'm talking about - it's their absurdly unnatural silhouette - neither male nor female nor even truly human. Like an asexual teddy bear.
31/08/2011 00:05 BST

Bringing Down The Iron Curtain

During the 80s, with artists I managed, I visited most of Eastern Europe's capitals. All of them smelt of decay. Buildings were dilapidated and hotels grubby. You could be arrested for taking a photograph where you shouldn't, or walking down the wrong street. In Moscow, the hotel staff were indistinguishable from police. "Your flight is cancel. You will delay 48 hours. We will retain your passport. Eat in the designated place."
24/08/2011 08:50 BST

A Better Class Of Riot

After last week's riots, Russell Brand writing in the <em>Guardian </em>owned up to having once been involved in such things. And a while back in the <em>Daily Mail</em>, right-wing columnist Peter Hitchens also owned up. Neither attempted to excuse their behaviour, but there was a slight suggestion that perhaps, in their day, compared with what we saw in Britain last week, there was a better class of riot.
17/08/2011 08:15 BST

TV Interviewers 2011

Before he left the UK, Piers Morgan was making progress towards becoming a serious interviewer in the old-fashioned David Frost mould - talking to top people and digging into their private thoughts. He even got Gordon Brown to shed a tear on camera. But in America, faced with an interview every day and a show-business culture that doesn't like to dig too deep, Morgan's interviews have quickly become standard celebrity obsequity.
10/08/2011 12:29 BST

El Bullimia - An Eating Disorder

Ferran Adrià, chef and owner of the restaurant El Bulli (famous for its 34-course tasting menu and its waiting list of a million customers), has closed the place down. Good riddance! El Bulli wasn't a proper restaurant anyway - it was an eating disorder. And it's been spreading.
02/08/2011 19:00 BST

Larders And Linoleum

Record companies are the past. Nothing wrong with them - they served a purpose, and the names of their labels were a part of our lives. But like larders and linoleum and cars that didn't start on cold mornings, they belong to another age.
27/07/2011 09:17 BST

God, Gays And Bagels

At school, the other big decision was religion. We were told point blank we had to believe in God. There were school prayers every morning and the only way to avoid them was to be Buddhist, Jewish or Moslem, in which case you could wait in a small room next to the library. But over the last few years there've been ominous rumblings about a religious gene - a gene that creates an unstoppable need in people to believe in an all-powerful gentleman in the sky. This would put religion on a par with homosexuality - not a choice, but something you're born with. Which brings me to bagels.
20/07/2011 07:03 BST

That Splendid C-Word

A couple of weeks ago Julie Burchill was complaining in the <em>Independent</em> about people who use the C-word. She thoroughly disapproves. But I think she's wrong. It's a splendid word. A super word. A great full-stop of a word. Uttered with a suitable amount of venom, it can bring any conversation to a complete halt, whereas its miserably overused cousin, the F-word, has lost all power to shock. <strong>LANGUAGE WARNING:</strong> For those left uncharmed by a more liberal usage of our great Anglo-Saxon tongue, please read no further...
13/07/2011 00:01 BST

Art is the New Rock'N'Roll

The music world is in debate as to what lies ahead. Record companies will soon be gone. No one's crying. But new musical artists are wondering how, in the internet age, they will get sufficient focus on themselves to rise to the top. Bit by bit fresh promotional mechanisms will emerge; in the meantime the new style music industry would do well to keep an eye on the world of art.
03/07/2011 18:56 BST