There's always one in every group. Even the first time you ever meet them, when they're all sitting there eager and fresh-faced, ready to take this giant step into the real music business, and you're going to be there to help them - somewhere between a parent, an elder brother, a teacher, a mentor, and a team captain - there's always one. While the others are eager and excited and ready to hang on your every word, you notice the odd-man-out, sitting there, arms folded, doubt welling, arguments already brewing. And your heart sinks. Do I REALLY want to do this?
But by then, in those few short minutes, you've already been swept up in the enthusiasm and energy of the others - and the music's great too - well of course it is, and you believe in it, or you would never have been there talking to them in the first place. So you say yes.
For the next three or four years you work hard and build them into the big act they wanted to be. You put up with the moaner-in-their-midst because, after all, he's only just one of them, and he's not all bad, he sings well and plays well and writes half the songs. So you're patient.
Besides, when things are going well he's usually overwhelmed by the others and their pleasure in the rock 'n' roll life - the travel, the limos, the parties, the girls, and the sheer joy of performing. But when things go less well, his pessimistic depression starts to infiltrate the others. Bit by bit, each time you talk with them, you notice one more sullen face among the smiling ones, until eventually there's a complete set of them. Why hasn't our record sold more? Why is it only double platinum? Why did it fall off the number one spot after a month? Why do we have to play five stadiums in a row? Why have you turned us into superstars? Why do we have to be successful? Why have you screwed up our lives? We're leaving.
To be honest, the day that happens will be the happiest day you can remember during the whole damned time you managed them. That night you'll stay home alone and have a quiet evening with a nice bottle of wine. And relax.
For the first time in months there'll be none of those midnight phone calls to deal with - the lead singer's Ferrari just got clamped outside the Groucho club, the drummer's cat just ate his stash of cocaine, the guitarist's girl friend is flirting with Jeff Beck at China White's, "And you'd better do something about it right NOW, Simon!"
None of it! Just absolute peace and freedom, and you think... Why the hell did I ever do it in the first place? And you promise yourself you'll never ever do it again. But before very long, of course, you do.
Simon Napier-Bell's new book is Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay, a history of the music business. Published by pledges for advance sales at http://unbound.co.uk/books/ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay