Tony Secunda

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Legendary pop band manager whose clients included the Moody Blues, the Move, and the Pretenders.
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b. 1940, London, England. d. 12 February 1995, San Anselmo, California, USA. The son of a Russian emigrant who had relocated from New York to London, Secunda was educated at public school, then dropped out to work for magazine publishers Fleetway Press. A regular visitor to the 2I’s coffee bar, he was intrigued by British rock ‘n’ roll but seemed too young to take an active part as an entrepreneur. After a period in the merchant navy, during which time he visited Hollywood, he returned to London and began booking gigs in youth clubs. His first management job was with Johnny Kidd And The Pirates, one of the most respected musical ensembles of their period. Unfortunately for Secunda, his partner Stanley Dale ousted him from the managerial throne. Recoiling from that setback Secunda then teamed up with songwriter Chris Andrews for a brief spell before becoming a wrestling promoter. Ever on the move, Secunda next moved to South Africa, returned to London again in 1964 and took over the management of Lesley Duncan. No successes were forthcoming but later that year Secunda’s luck changed when he acquired the Birmingham-based Moody Blues. The group hit number 1 early the following year with the atmospheric ‘Go Now’. Financial bickering soon ensued, however, and Secunda parted from the group amid considerable acrimony. He departed with singer Denny Laine, as his sole supporter. Secunda stayed with the Birmingham beat boom for his next find, the Move. An inveterate lover of media sensationalism, he used stock shock tactics to introduce his charges to the world. They were photographed in gangster suits, with a stripper and made no apologies for their self-professed violent stage act. Their sparkling run of hits testified both to their talent and Secunda’s mastery of media manipulation. As with many Secunda stunts, however, the outrage went a little too far. In 1968, he concocted the idea of protesting against Britain’s Prime Minister by creating a whimsical postcard of the leader naked in a bath tub. Harold Wilson duly sued for libel and the group lost a substantial amount of their royalties to charity. Secunda moved on, then managed the doomed Birmingham supergroup Balls. For a brief period it was rumoured that he might manage Paul McCartney’s Wings (formed in 1971), which (like Balls) included his former protégé Denny Laine, but nothing came of the proposed match. Instead, Secunda became more involved in Regal Zonophone Records, with partner Denny Cordell. He became a short-term manager for T. Rex before Marc Bolan (who left Regal Zonophone in 1970) set off in search of other entrepreneurs. A 60s legend, Secunda effectively retired from management during the early/mid-70s. He settled in America, married an heiress, and his only notable excursion into pop during the period was some work with the Dwight Twilley Band. Returning to England, he worked with Gary Shearston and, more oddly, Steeleye Span. The folk group received a taste of Secunda’s publicity-making when he arranged for one of their gigs to be littered with pound notes. Although Secunda seemed the perfect manager during the early days of punk, he instead took on the heavy metal group Motörhead, but that relationship soon ended. With Malcolm McLaren stealing the limelight for his group the Sex Pistols, Secunda was convinced that his own powers as a media sensationalist could be put to use with the right group. The comeback proved anti-climactic. Secunda found the right group in the Pretenders, but appeared to lose interest in backing them at a crucial time, just before they broke through. As a managerial buccaneer, Secunda was one of the most colourful figures in pop during the mid- to late 60s but declined or neglected to traverse into top artist management in the harsher climate of the 80s.