You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Meet the Music Manager Who Helps Struggling Addicts on the Road to Recovery

In Variety‘s Recovery Issue, prominent entertainment figures offer insights on navigating a sober life in Hollywood. For more, click here.

Longtime music manager Jeff Jampol is known as one of the top estate representatives in the world. He’s made a career out of monitoring — and monetizing — the brands and assets of such legends as Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and the Ramones, among many others. But Jampol is just as well-regarded by his peers for being the go-to person for those struggling with addiction. He’s beloved in the industry for his tireless work to provide guidance, connections and motivation so that others can get clean, just as he did 30 years ago.

“I’ve known Jeff for much of my career in the music business,” says Steve Berman, the vice chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, home to Lady Gaga, Maroon 5 and Eminem. “But what many people don’t know — and that’s because Jeff doesn’t make a big deal about it — is that he’s helped dozens and dozens of executives and artists on their path to recovery from addiction issues. He is, as they say, ‘of service’ to an enormous number of people in recovery, many of whom go on to help others as part of their process. The ripple effect of positivity and healing created by Jeff is simply incalculable.”

Jampol’s own struggle started during college, when he dropped out of Sonoma State University after a year “to manage punk bands and deal cocaine,” he says. “Unfortunately, I was my own best customer, so that didn’t go so well as a commercial venture.” Heroin soon proved to be his drug of choice. “I got as close to death as you could possibly get, and almost had my leg amputated.”

Employed at Warner Bros. sales and distribution during the music biz’s boom years in the 1980s, Jampol — who already stands out at 6’8” — didn’t want to walk into work with track marks on his arms, so he shifted to veins in his leg. The result wasn’t pretty: “Hundreds of abscesses started joining together to create one huge open cave on my leg,” says Jampol, who wound up in the ER due to an exposed tibia bone. “They said, ‘If we don’t amputate, he’s definitely going to die; he might still die after we amputate, but we’ve got to do it,’” he recalls. Luckily for Jampol, the anesthesiologist refused — Jampol’s tolerance level to opiates was too high — and he landed in the detox unit, where enough tissue growth allowed for reconstructive surgery.

Two skin grafts and another stint in detox later, Jampol was finally sober. But he was still an addict. Ultimately, he couldn’t resist the temptation to shoot up — in the same leg — once again. “With every IQ point I now possess,” Jampol points out, “so clearly it’s not an intellectual issue. As I was preparing the syringe and thinking, ‘This is a really bad idea,’ I plunged the needle right in my leg. It’s a very powerless state of being.”

It took Jampol four trips to treatment to achieve long-term sobriety. One of his first jobs in recovery was selling computer printer ribbons over the phone for $150 a week. “I had lost everything, and I was sleeping on floors for over a year,” he says. “But I decided to make a commitment to recovery.” It was a decision made not only for himself but for others, and it paid off exponentially: One of the people he met on the road to recovery was Danny Sugerman, manager of the Doors — which led to a friendship and then a blossoming business partnership that filled an industry void and modernized the legacy artists market.

Even by the standards of the music industry, Jampol Artist Management is unusual. First there’s the mantra: “Wisdom comes from good judgment and good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from really bad judgment.” And Jampol proudly declares: “I’m one of the most experienced guys you’ll probably ever meet.” But what sets his business apart from every other management firm in town is its foundation on “spiritual principles,” such as honesty, faith, commitment, courage, willingness, perseverance and, Jampol’s favorite, service. “As an addict, I was completely dishonest and self-centered and manipulative,” he says. “I took so much out of the world and people that when I got this gift of recovery, it was really important to me to give back.”

Many other high-profile people in the industry were happy to talk about Jampol’s service work — off the record. They stay sober by regularly attending 12-step recovery meetings, where community anonymity is the only price of admission. Jampol even hosts weekly meetings at his home in the Hollywood Hills, which is a short drive from his HQ on Sunset Boulevard. Flashy symbols of success adorn his office: the Grammy he won for producing a documentary on the Doors (along with the Diamond award for the band’s greatest hits album, which sold more than 10 million copies); a multiplatinum plaque for Joplin’s “Pearl”; a Robert Graham bust of Charlie Parker, yet another client.

Jampol is known to walk out of meetings whenever an addict in crisis calls, which can be a daily, sometimes hourly, occurrence, say colleagues. Explains Jampol: “I can be with a label chairman or a publishing company president, and I’ll get a call or a text — somebody in recovery who needs help — and I’ll interrupt to take that call.” Often the person on the other end of the line is a stranger. “I’ve put many people in treatment and not even met them until later when they have a year or two clean,” he says. Jampol estimates that he has also made “hundreds and hundreds” of house calls for personal intervention over the years.

When it comes to advising addicts on how to get clean, what Jampol brings to the table is expertise through experience. “What usually happens in these cases is the whole team knowingly or unknowingly is enabling the addict,” he says. “I can do something that no therapist or doctor or judge can do, which is just one addict helping another — that beautiful principle of empathy. I can sit with the hardest of the hardcore addicts and literally in four to six minutes I can gain their confidence.

“Because,” he says, “I’m them.”

More Music

  • Jason Derulo

    Jason Derulo Celebrates Music Career Milestone, Reveals Action Movie Ambition

    Warner Records celebrated one of its own on Thursday night (Nov. 21), presenting Jason Derulo with a plaque commemorating 190 million overall sales worldwide. The event at the Argyle in Los Angeles came on the heels of his latest release, the EP “2 Sides” (Side 1)” and also marked other milestones. Variety caught up with [...]

  • Trippie Red album cover

    Album Review: Trippie Redd’s ‘A Love Letter to You 4’

    Of the SoundCloud Class of 2016-17, Trippie Redd is just about the last man standing. Lil Pump and 6ix9ine had flashes of mainstream glory but quickly combusted (or worse), Lil Xan and Lil Tracy never quite seemed to get off the ground, and two of the biggest, XXXTentacion and Lil Peep, are no longer with [...]

  • Sam Hunt Country and Pop Hitmakers

    Sam Hunt Apologizes for ‘Selfish’ Decision to Drive Under the Influence

    Country singer-songwriter Sam Hunt, who was arrested in Nashville on charges of driving under the influence and possession of an open container early Thursday morning, tweeted an apology for the incident Friday afternoon. “Thursday night I decided to drive myself home after drinking at a friend’s show in downtown Nashville,” he wrote. “It was a [...]

  • Queen and Slim soundtrack

    Album Review: 'Queen & Slim: The Soundtrack'

    “Queen & Slim,” the film, traffics in sudden tragedy and symbolic terror as it portrays the violence of self-defense and self-awareness in stark, painful terms. It deserves an equally audacious score and soundtrack, a job that has gone to another Devonté Hynes, the British singer, songwriter, guitarist, record producer and director in his guise of Blood [...]

  • Michael Jackson in concert in Milton

    Michael Jackson Music Biopic in the Works From 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King has struck a deal with the Michael Jackson estate for the pop star’s life and music rights, with plans to make a feature film based on both. King has tapped “Gladiator” and “The Aviator” screenwriter John Logan for the project. The film currently has no studio or distributor attached. The [...]

  • Beck

    Album Review: Beck's 'Hyperspace'

    Veering dangerously close to the atom heart of the mainstream does something to an artist of adventure. It can make a superman weak in its presence, like Kryptonite (it took years and Tin Machine for Bowie to recover from “Let’s Dance”), or build a stronger artist by moving ever more consistently into success’s center square, [...]

  • The Edge, Adam Clayton and Bono

    U2 Tops Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran as Highest-Grossing Touring Artist of the Decade

    U2 topped the Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift as the top-grossing touring artist of the 2010s, according to data from Pollstar. U2 grossed more than a billion dollars — $1,038,104,132, to be exact — although that number is likely to grow, as the group is currently on its “Joshua Tree 2019” tour in Australia, New [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content