×
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

  • U2, Seattle 14 May 2017

    U2 Drop New Song, ‘Ahimsa,’ Ahead of First Concert in India

    After a flurry of rumors on Thursday, U2 dropped their first single in two years: “Ahimsa,” a collaboration with Oscar- and Grammy-winning Indian musician AR Rahman, ahead of the group’s first-ever visit to the country next month. Rahman has a vast track record of film soundtracks and is best known for his work on the [...]

  • French Montana performs at the 2019

    French Montana Hospitalized Following Robbery False Alarm

    French Montana remains in hospital after checking in following an initial report of a robbery at his home, Variety has confirmed. A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department representative confirmed that deputies responded to Montana’s home in Calabasas after reports of a robbery in progress but did not find evidence of criminal activity and departed the [...]

  • Coldplay Everyday Life

    Album Review: Coldplay’s ‘Everyday Life’

    “Just because I’m losing,” Chris Martin once sang, “doesn’t mean I’m lost.” A platitude to end all platitudes, this line is a prime example of the familiar arena-rock territory Coldplay has prowled so successfully for nearly 20 years. The soliloquy framing and vague but relatable message are both present on “Lost” from 2008’s “Viva la [...]

  • Leonard Cohen album cover

    Album Review: Leonard Cohen's 'Thanks for the Dance'

    “But wait — there’s more!” can be a good news/bad news thing when it comes to posthumous album releases. No one, or almost no one, likes the idea of scraps from a late artist’s cutting room floor slowly being dribbled out over time, as happened with Tupac Shakur, who somehow released more studio albums in [...]

  • Shannon Hoon

    Live Nation Productions Boards Danny Clinch-Helmed Blind Melon Doc 'All I Can Say'

    Live Nation Productions and Double E Entertainment have signed on as executive producers of “All I Can Say,” the documentary film featuring footage shot entirely by the late Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon. The film’s title is taken from the opening lines of Blind Melon’s instantly recognizable 1993 smash, “No Rain.” Culled from Hoon’s archives, the [...]

  • Bon Iver Justin Vernon Grammys

    Bon Iver, Tanya Tucker, Thom Yorke Lead Indie Labels to 44% of Grammy Nominations

    Ever since Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” won Album of the Year at the 2011 Grammy Awards, independent labels have seen their star rise on “Music’s Biggest Night,” and that looks set to continue at the 2020 ceremony, where Bon Iver, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Yola, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, Elvis Costello and others have gotten big [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content