Pioneering British music promoter, manager and PR agent Tony Calder, best known for his work with groups like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, died on Jan. 2 at the age of 74. His innovative methods helped promote many of the U.K.’s largest acts for more than 50 years.
Calder started his career in the early ’60s at Decca Records where he met his eventual business partner, famed Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. In his time at Decca Calder met and worked with Brian Epstein, Seymour Stein and the Beatles. And, in 1962, he was assigned to promote the Fab Four’s first single “Love Me Do.” He sent hundreds of copies of the single to clubs, forcing record stores to stock the single and helping kick-start one of history’s most significant musical movements.
A year later, Calder and Oldham started IMAGE, an independent PR company that handled management for the Rolling Stones and eventually promoted the Beach Boys and Freddie and the Dreamers. The partners also formed one of the U.K.’s first and most controversial independent labels, Immediate Records. They signed artists such as Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac and Small Faces before shuttering in 1970, but remained at the center of a number of legal battles over unpaid royalties for decades.
In 1965 Calder undertook his sole venture into production when he stepped in for Oldham to work with Marianne Faithfull, producing two of her hits, “Come and Stay With Me” and “This Little Bird,” which reached 4th and 6th on the U.K. charts.
In the ’70s Calder signed groups like the Bay City Rollers and Black Sabbath, and eventually managed Eddy Grant for the most successful period of his career, eventually helping form Grant’s label — Ice Records. It is Calder who is credited with saving Grant’s “I Don’t Wanna Dance” from being a forgotten demo when he pushed for its release as a single.
Through the ’80s and ’90s Calder remained ever-present in the industry, forming the Big Wave group in ’88 and promoting three consecutive U.K. number ones for Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers. In 1994 he paired once again with Oldham when the two wrote the biography “Abba: The Name of the Game.” Calder finished his career with a return stint as Eddy Grant’s manager.
According to reports, Calder died of complications from pneumonia at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London.
Oldham told Variety: “Tony Calder helped me create Immediate Records; he had many other accomplishments. The fact that, via Immediate, we were able to create an example for the future was an achievement. Tony had ears and balls. I loved him and he will be missed.”