ABOUT THE EXHIBIT
In August 2019, the GRAMMY Museum opened Jerry Weintraub Presents…, an exhibit that celebrated the legacy of renowned concert promoter and producer, Jerry Weintraub, who is credited as one of the key players behind the most memorable concert tours of the 1970s.
Jerry Weintraub Presents… was on display in the GRAMMY Museum’s fourth floor Mike Curb Gallery through February 2020.
Jerry Weintraub and Concerts West took the presentation of music to a never-before-seen size and scale. Until 1970, the business of presenting concerts was in the hands of regional promoters working in clubs and theaters. Jerry Weintraub recognized the potential for great artists to play bigger venues and create one-of-a-kind events that elevated the performer and the audience. Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, John Denver, the Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Moody Blues, the Bee Gees, and Paul McCartney were among the many artists that benefited from Weintraub’s business acumen, moxie, and sense of showmanship. Audience members were treated to experiences that made music something to hear, see, and talk about the next day.
Jerry Weintraub presents… The Next Big Thing
Throughout the beginning of his management career, Jerry Weintraub traveled around the country searching for “the next big thing.” He had a knack for spotting exciting new talents and rising trends. Weintraub’s interest in and enthusiasm for his clients was genuine, while his dedication to their success was unmatched. In his own words, he “was always ready to make the small thing big, or the big thing huge.” In the early 1960s, he managed an impressive roster of talent including Paul Anka, The Four Seasons, and singer Jane Morgan, whom he married in 1965. Weintraub’s business savvy was the driving force behind many hit songs and iconic pop culture moments of the era. In 1970, he made one of his most notable discoveries when he stumbled upon a young John Denver performing in a dive bar in Greenwich Village, NYC. Weintraub described signing Denver to Management III as “one of those rare moments you dream of as a manager—spotting the kid who will become a star, who is a star already, even if the world does not yet know it.” Weintraub’s main goal as a manager and promoter was to make sure the world knew exactly who those stars were.
Jerry Weintraub presents… The National Tour
Before 1970, local concert promoters controlled the venues, ticket sales, and publicity in each of their designated regions across the country. However, this changed when Jerry Weintraub and promotion company Concerts West first took Elvis Presley on tour in 1970. Weintraub sidestepped the local promoters and dealt directly with venue owners, who could not resist the opportunity to book Elvis, the top box-office attraction at the time. By cutting out the regional middleman, Weintraub decreased overhead and increased profits, bringing the power into the hands of the artist and their representation. This new, more profitable system attracted artists and resulted in more concert dates. Although Weintraub was not popular among promoters, he and Concerts West became an artists’ top choice for concert promotion throughout the 1970s.
Jerry Weintraub presents… The Comeback Tour
Jerry Weintraub’s boundless connections as both a manager and concert promoter helped him revitalize the careers of beloved artists. In 1972, Jerry Weintraub received a call from his all-time favorite singer, Frank Sinatra, who had taken note of Weintraub’s recent success touring Elvis Presley. Sinatra was considering retirement and felt underwhelmed by the monotony of performing live each night. With Weintraub in his corner, it was not long before Sinatra was selling out landmark venues like Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden, the setting for one of his most talked about performances, “The Main Event.” Around the same time, Neil Diamond returned from a four-year hiatus from the music business and teamed up with Weintraub and Concerts West for a comeback tour, which led to a duo of Emmy-nominated musical television specials, live albums, and many more tours.
Jerry Weintraub presents… Masterful Marketing
No matter how famous the client, Jerry Weintraub found ways to generate even more buzz around his clients’ concerts, and fill even more seats. A master of marketing, Weintraub methodically planned concert experiences that blended and expanded his audiences by bringing more than one headlining act to the stage. In August 1975, he paired Frank Sinatra with John Denver—a seemingly unlikely duo—for a week of sold-out shows at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. One month later, Weintraub organized an all-star tour featuring Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and bandleader Count Basie that opened on Broadway. Weintraub’s creative spectaculars always garnered extensive attention from local radio stations and newspapers. Often, Weintraub would take out an ad in a local newspaper in the days following a blockbuster performance, thanking the city for the sold out show. This reminded Weintraub’s audiences that he and the artists appreciated their attendance, and left future audiences anticipating their next visit.
Jerry Weintraub presents… Superstars and Stadiums
By the mid-1970s, Jerry Weintraub’s management and promotion skills were in high demand. Established acts like Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Bee Gees, Eric Clapton, and Bad Company, sought after Weintraub’s sense of showmanship, and his track record for box office success. Weintraub’s reputation, paired with the star power of his clients, resulted in some of the most epic concert experiences of the 1970s—and Weintraub was not done dreaming big. Weintraub became the first concert promoter to book shows in sports arenas, allowing the world’s biggest acts to reach thousands more of their fans per night, on a larger-than-life scale that matched the power and volume of their music. Peter Grant, Led Zeppelin’s long-time manager, once said, “We take this for granted now, but Weintraub’s ability to organize these massive concerts made show business history.”