After news broke that Elliot Roberts, the veteran manager who worked with Neil Young for more than 50 years, had passed away early Friday of undisclosed causes, it was just a matter of time before a tribute from his longtime friend and client (which hardly seems like the word) emerged. On Saturday afternoon, Young posted a message on his Neil Young Archives site.
“Never one to think of himself, he puts everyone else first. That’s what he did for me for over fifty years of friendship, love and laughter, managing my life, protecting our art in the business of music. That’s what he did,” Young wrote in part, going on to cite several of Roberts’ other artists.
“When it came to our business, Elliot guided me through every move. We talked every day. Often I would call him multiple times in a day, arguing, discussing, planning and sharing. He was there for me and protected my music with a fierceness. He loved music and managed over the years many greats: Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, David Blue, Tracy Chapman, Tegan and Sara, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Tom Petty, the Eagles, among others.”
He also nodded to his longtime agent, Marsha Vlasic. “Elliot loved making deals for all of us, saving our publishing rights, ensuring we were treated well, helping book our concerts, as well as booking the Bridge Concert with Marsha Vlasic from the very beginning for over 30 years,” he wrote. “He made it happen. This world is forever changed for me, for all who knew him and loved him. His memory shines with love.”
Earlier, a rep for Young’s sometime bandmates Stephen Stills and Graham Nash circulated tributes from them as well.
“Elliot Roberts was the probably the kindest, gentlest, and far and away the funniest man I ever worked with in Show Business,” Stills wrote. “He was also tough as a barbed wire fence, fiercely loyal and keenly observant; guarding the best interests of his clients with uncommon tenacity and skill.
“But his greatest gift was his soulful, open heart. No doubt it was the source of his sensitivity and singular understanding of the courageous honesty with which a great artist willingly reveals their soul and transports us. He allowed himself to feel the vulnerability of being fully immersed in the moment, yet oddly untethered. It is a profound experience and not easily undertaken. I have seen him do it, and felt him with me, swimming in the ether. Elliot Roberts possessed a unique ability to recognize a great artist when he saw one. His natural empathy was perfectly suited for his emergence as an enormously impactful personal manager to a collection of the most legendary artists of our time.
“I am honored to have been his friend, forever grateful that he chose to represent me.I truly loved Elliot Roberts and shall miss him beyond measure.”
For his part, Nash wrote, “Elliot was a funny, brilliant friend and devoted manager. His life touched many people, and he brought forth the best in people. He was the glue that kept CSNY together in our early years and I will certainly miss him with sadness in my heart”.