Vic Billings was an unusual manager in the history of British pop, working for over two decades and yet resisting the temptation to sign a money-spinning group, even at the zenith of the beat boom. From 1954-60, he worked as a theatre house manager before branching out into the pop business. One of his first clients was Michael Cox, who charted with a cover version of ‘Angela Jones’. Another signing was Paul Raven, who recorded a version of ‘Tower Of Strength’ that lost out to Frankie Vaughan’s chart-topping version. Raven subsequently moved to Germany and re-emerged a decade later as Gary Glitter. In 1962, Billings joined the ill-fated management/record company Audio Enterprises, and following its rapid demise inherited the promising Eden Kane. Under Billings’ aegis, Kane secured a new contract with Fontana Records, toured regularly and eventually emigrated to Australia. Billings subsequently took on the management of Kane’s younger brother, Robin Sarstedt, in 1976. Billings’ style of management was based firmly on the precepts of the 50s and contrasted markedly with the hard sell, flamboyant approach of his contemporaries. Much of the drama and double-dealing that seemed part and parcel of pop group management completely bypassed Billings, who was free to develop his solo artists’ long-term careers without interference from potential rivals. His association with Dusty Springfield is still regarded by many as one of the best manager/artist relationships of the 60s: he assumed her management immediately after the break-up of the Springfields and they stayed together until 1968, when she moved to the USA. Some felt that Billings was over-cautious in his handling of her career but it was this very solicitude that sustained the partnership for so long. The consistent chart career of Springfield was some compensation for the puzzling failure of his younger protégée, Kiki Dee, who maintained a career in cabaret but failed to chart during the 60s. Billings eventually moved into a corporate management company, but was later called upon by manager Meg Van Kuyk as adviser to Hazell Dean.
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