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plastered all over the ultimate ballad
prop. ‘One merchandising company sold
; Cliff Richard lighters at Wembley,’ says Connloy. ‘You can imagine it— at
. the end of the night, everybody’s got
Anyone for a Del Leppard sweatband? Or how about a pair of Jason Donovan boxer shorts? Merchandising, the tour souvenirwhich proclaims, ‘I went, I saw, Ispent', can generate more income for a band than their record deal. With so much spin-off cash to be made, merchandising companies now employ their own art departments and talent scouts to seek out new acts before they hit the big time, and compete viciously with each other for the right to flog the latest popster on a T-shlrt.
Bravado is one oi four main merchandising companies in the country and they have contracts with a wide range oi acts from Deacon Blue to Vic Reeves.
‘lf we are negociating with an act, if they were good, we'd offer an advance which is recuperable against sales, plus a royalty of, say, 30 per cent of gross,’ says Bravado’s Marion Connloy. ‘We then get together with the band, the record company and the management and discuss what they want on their merchandising, whether
it be the new album cover or something _
The company then sends out a small team to travel alongside the band and sell inside the venue. ‘The best are rock bands like Iron Maiden and Bon Jovi,’ comments Connloy. ‘Some fans are T-shirt buyers and some aren’t.’
The average price of a T-shirt is £10, but Bravado also supplies merchandising to independent bands who then flog it themselves while touring. They can sell for below the average and the money they make is still often enough to finance travel and food.
But one of the biggest problems both the bands and the merchandiser lace is the bootlegger. Buying ripped-off designs on cheap and nasty T-shirts, many a fan ends up with their hero dissolving in theirtwin tub.
‘The bootleggers also follow big acts and sell outside the venue. We sometimes employ security to stop them. The designs and logos are copyrighted. They pay the band nothing, and fans have absolutely no come back.‘
As more and more bands brave the stadium, the humble but best-selling black T-shirt and programme is being complemented by a growing range of goods geared to particular audiences. ltalian designer Gianne Versace has designed Elton John’s tour shirts and Cliff Richard’s handsome face is
Q their lighters in the air. They must have
sold thousands of them.’ (Beatrice Colin)
A ,- j GOAT’S HEAD SOUP
As rock stars now rock, roll and tour the world’s stadia until well into their twilight years, health has naturally become a major priority. The joys of sex and drugs are often eclipsed by punishing schedules and global tours, but on-the-road catering has never been better. While the punters tuck into dubious burgers on the pitch, backstage the band and crew eat three-course meals, with several choices, cooked by professional chefs who travel the with the tour.
Kim Davenpourt runs Eat Your Hearts Out, a catering company with an established reputation and an annual
é turnover oi around a million pounds.
‘lt’s the hardest job on the tour and the caterers have to work extremely long hours. They’re first to set up in the
morning to serve the crew breakfast
and are often last to leave after the
2 show. I employ both males and , females, but i wouldn'ttake on
anybody who had long nails and wore lurex.’ Caterers can expect to earn between
. 2504280 a day depending on
experience, and cook for up to 200 people a night. They carry all their equipment, from microwaves to egg
3 whisks, with them and often set up in ' cramped and unsuitable conditions.
As for the food, it has to be fresh, healthy, varied and carefully budgeted. Daily shopping trips determine the menu, but the caterer also has to pander to the pop star's quirky food fads.
‘The Scorpions were on a lit-for-life diet and did ask for some strange things, including copious amounts of freshly-squeezed orange juice and strange dishes with seaweed,’ says
STADIUM ROCK FEATURE
But catering is essential on large-scale tours, not just for its inherent nutritional value, as Kim points out.
‘The dining room is a place where people don't just come to eat, they come fora chat and a coffee. On a long tour, for some it’s the nearest they get to home.’ (Beatrice Colin)
After several years of doing assorted music-related work in Edinburgh, Lorna Munro went into business as Behind The Scenes in 1989, and continues to ‘do anything to do with putting on a gig, on on the non-technical side’. This can involve anything from taking care of wardrobe for big Playhouse stage shows to racing around Edinburgh to locate a certain type of guitar string or even a pair of trousers for the production manager.
And whenever Regular Music bring a big act to Scotland, it’s Munro they turn to to provide the special touches: such as making a Portakabin seem like a
homely dressing room and supplying ‘ tokens of appreciation from the
promoters. ‘l’ve seen myself half an hour before
cafetiere of coffee, because he'd gone on the wagon and he wanted fresh hot coffee available at all times. And draping about seven yards of tartan material round the walls of Cannonball House in Edinburgh Castle to furnish the dressing rooms.‘
In a business where professional standards have risen dramatically, Runrig’s crew must be one of the most highly qualified, academically atthe very least. ‘The crew's got even more degrees than the band,‘ says their production manager Billy Wharton, who himself trained as an architectural historian. Knowing that job opportunities would be somewhat limited in that field, he took advantage of the fact that he ‘knew a little bit about gear’ and worked his way up from student gigs to the stage crews at the Edinburgh Ddeon and Empire in the 70s. A spell with Westmill —one of Scotland’s first professional PA companies-was followed by an invitation from Simple Minds, who were just starting to hit the road in earnest and needed experienced hands. Wharton became theirtour manager, spending two-and-a-half years with the band.
However, it‘s with Runrig that he’s most closely associated, at the head of ‘a hand-picked crew’ that’s taken years to build up. ‘The crew have a terrific attitude towards the band and the band have a terrific attitude towards the crew?
Last year’s massive Loch Lomond show, when he was dealing with a production budget that ran into ‘telephone numbers’, was probably his biggest challenge.
‘The band like to have a lot of involvement, but they were mixing their album atthe time, and their manager Marlene was involved with the record company, so she said to me, “Just do it". I was making decisions about the look of it that normally I’d
; the band arrive suddenly diving off and i have asked the band about. But they
getting stuff. Sometimes, it’s
last-minute ideas. It tends to be more for international bands, like when Lou
Reed was playing, we got him a copy of “DrJekyll And Mr Hyde” and his wife a
liked it. And the gig was perfect— it had a real urgency to it.’ The prospect of another open-air
event on the scale of Loch Lomond next
year, and a solid nine months on the
' copy of“Shades Of Scotland” and one ; road, holds no tears forBilly wharton.
or two other books by traditional and
I modern Scottish authors. We got a copy of the songs of Robert Burns from
an antiquarian bookshop as well. We
‘ gave the Robert Cray Band a bottle of L malt whisky each. Little touches like i that, they do appreciate it.
‘Last year, lwas ironing Van
T Morrison’s suit and spending the
evening running around with a
‘Dying for itto happen,’ he proclaims, practically I licking his lips. ‘Can'twait.’ (Alastair Mabboft)