Beatles Promoter Tony Calder Dies at 74

Tony Calder, a promoter who helped the Beatles to their first hit before signing Black Sabbath and Fleetwood Mac to label deals, has died at age 74. His death was confirmed by the BBC and producer Andrew Loog Oldham, with whom Calder started Immediate Records in the ’60s.

The BBC said Calder died of complications from pneumonia in London at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. “A member of the family has left us,” Oldham wrote on Twitter.

The Beatles were still struggling to find an audience for “Love Me Do” when the busy Calder, working at Decca Records during the day and as a dance-hall DJ at night, decided to take up the band’s cause. He personally sent copies of the single to clubs through the U.K., assuring fellow disc jockeys that “Love Me Do” would be a hit.

“It was not getting radio play, and after the first week they were in panic,” Calder once said. “And that’s when I thought, ‘This fills all the Mecca [Leisure Group] dance halls that I play at. Let’s do that ’round the country.’ We mailed it on the Monday. By Wednesday, they were all playing it.”

Customers were soon requesting the single in their local record shops, and suddenly the Beatles had a Top 20 U.K. hit on their hands. “The record was struggling and it picked up,” Calder noted, “and that’s how we got it away.”

Before launching Immediate Records, Calder and Oldham started a public-relations firm that counted the Rolling Stones and Beach Boys as clients. At Immediate, he signed Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, and the Small Faces, though the label went bust a few years later. Calder and Oldham later collaborated on a 1994 book about the pop group ABBA.

Calder signed acts as disparate as Black Sabbath and the Bay City Rollers. He also managed Eddy Grant, and produced a pair of U.K. Top 10 hits for Marianne Faithfull, “Come and Stay With Me” and “This Little Bird,” according to Variety.

 

 

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