Magherafelt mogul: how to keep Van Morrison and Tom Waits happy
Derry man Paul Charles has been at the coalface of music promotion since the 1960s. He talks about the punk economics of The Undertones and The Buzzcocks, how Van is just misunderstood, and the ‘amazing imagination’ of Waits
What is he like? “Oh, he’s totally brilliant. He’s a great storyteller on and off the stage, which is why he’s such a great interviewee. I mean, where does fact and fiction start and finish? His imagination is amazing; he’s there in the story, making you cry one minute and laugh the next.”
Charles is still at Asgard, dividing his time between writing books and dealing with the business of making musicians and their managers a happy bunch.
It’s not about the money
What has he learned most in his years as a booking agent and industry peacemaker? “It’s the thing about belief, isn’t it? I’ve turned down so many acts through the years, not because they were bad but that I just didn’t get them. My logic – selfish, I admit – has always been that if I don’t get them, then I can’t convince promoters and record companies to take them on. If I do get them, then my enthusiasm will be infectious.
“So for anyone starting off, or not even starting off, if you’re doing something you can believe in, then keep following the light. If you’re doing it because you want to become famous, you want to make some money, or if it’s a substitute for acting, or something else, then don’t do it.”
The Lonesome Heart Is Angry by Paul Charles is published by New Island