b. 5 April 1935, South Norwood, Surrey, England, d. 21 November 1995, England. Best known as the heavyweight manager of UK rock group Led Zeppelin, Grant began his career as a wrestler (Count Bruno Alessio of Milan). He also enjoyed spells as an actor, deputizing for Robert Morley and appearing among many others in the UK television series Dixon Of Dock Green and the Benny Hill Show. Grant learned his trade in the pop business from the notorious Don Arden, then went on to manage his own acts, sharing an office for many years with Mickie Most. His first discoveries, the Flintstones and the She Trinity, were unsuccessful, but the New Vaudeville Band did a little better. Having already worked with Jimmy Page as a busy session musician, he was then approached by manager Simon Napier-Bell with a view to overseeing the career of the fragmenting Yardbirds. This eventually resulted in the formation and management of Led Zeppelin. Under Grant’s tutelage they became one of the biggest-selling albums bands in the world. Grant’s speciality was the American tour, from which he gained his charges enormous amounts of money. During his heyday, Grant was one of the fiercest and most feared entrepreneurs in the rock business, a reputation that often worked to Led Zeppelin’s advantage.
During the 70s, Grant co-managed other acts, including Bad Company and Maggie Bell, who appeared on Led Zeppelin’s Swansong label along with the Pretty Things, which was also co-owned by Grant. However, the label failed to establish an identity beyond Led Zeppelin. Grant, like many others, fell victim to the excesses that were associated with Led Zeppelin at their most decadent, and following the break up of his marriage he spent most of the 80s in relative retirement at his huge 15th-century manor house in Sussex and later in a humble apartment in Eastborne During this time he suffered heart problems, although in the mid-90s he was to be seen at music business functions. He died following a heart attack while driving near his home in 1995.
Grant’s gangster image and success should not cloud his immense qualities as a human being. Throughout the heady years of touring he always put the welfare of his own family and children high on his list. He was similarly protective and loyal to his artists, especially Led Zeppelin. He became much more than merely a manager, and was the first of this type of svengali.