They Seek Him Here…

They seek him here, they seek him there, they seek former Deep Purple manager and disappearing promoter John Coletta pretty well everywhere on the Spanish Riviera, although he’s believed to have been in the U.K. in the days leading to ILMC.

Coletta disappeared from the Costa Del Sol last September with the Spanish media – including the English-language weekly Sur – reporting that he’d skipped off with about $500,000 worth of box office money.

His Seabreeze Productions Espana S.L. had tanked after blowing out Jamiroquai and Bryan Adams shows at the 15,000-capacity Mijas horse racing track in Malaga.

Earlier shows withElton John, Rod Stewart, Lenny Kravitz, and UB40 had gone ahead but hadn’t filled the ground.

Within days of the Jamiroquai cancellation, which happened at 24 hours’ notice, the papers were saying Coletta couldn’t be reached on any of the three Seabreeze telephone numbers. The local Diario de Malaga referred to him as an “estafador” (or frausdster) and reported that he had “en paradero desconocido,” which is roughly the Spanish equivalent of vanishing into thin air.

He still left quite a stink on the Costa Del Sol. Local lawyer Francisco Damien Vazquez Jiminez claimed to have 200 ticket holders wanting to bring a class action against him. Also, Tick Tack Ticket agency’s Eugenio Casamilia said his company would be suing for the return of some euro 300,000 that it had passed on to Seabreeze.

Coletta, or at least one of his representatives, did pop his head above the parapet long enough to issue a written statement saying the cancellation of the Jamiroquai and Bryan Adams shows wasn’t his company’s fault and that he hadn’t run off with the punters’ money.

He also said he was Seabreeze’s biggest creditor, which didn’t sound like good news for the 7,000 or so fans who bought tickets for Jamiroquai, Bryan Adams or the English National Orchestra.

Immediately after that written press statement, Coletta – and the money – seemed to go to ground again.

The Spanish promoters’ association (Asociacion de Promotores Musicales – APM) issued a statement quoting chairman Chema Garcia Biosca saying, “Incidents like this cause an enormous amount of damage to the image of our profession.

“Booking agents know our market well. Obviously a big financial offer is important but it is not everything,” the statement continued.

Presumably, the APM feels Coletta – who also had spells managing Whitesnake and Rainbow – paid big bucks for acts like Lenny Kravitz, Elton John, Rod Stewart, and UB40. The APM seems to think that was a significant contribution to his company’s downfall.

Since then, the Scarlet Pimpernel of promoting has been sought here in the U.K. and back there on the Costa Del Sol, but there have been no reported sightings.

However, Pollstar has learned that he was definitely in the U.K. during the early part of March.

Frank Presland from the Sanctuary-owned Twenty First Artists, which manages Elton John, and Barry Dickins from Live Nation’s International Talent Booking –which sold Jamiroquai, Kravitz and UB40 to Coletta – show no signs of wanting to talk about him and weren’t replying to e-mails or phone messages at press time.

Carl Leighton-Pope, who is agent for Bryan Adams and had his Malaga show canceled at short notice, was asked if he’d heard from Coletta since last summer’s fiasco.

“Nothing at all, not a single word,” he replied.

Coletta’s presence in the U.K. came to Pollstar‘s attention when a March 7 press release from the Wembley-based Media Ink PR announced that one of its clients – Andy Cotton from TAO Productions – has been awarded the Tribute of Excellence by the National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA).

Part of the citation for the award, which was presented March 1-3 at an NOEA gathering at Chateau Impney, Worcestershire, was his work for Coletta on the Malaga shows for Elton John, Lenny Kravitz, Rod Stewart, and Jamiroquai.

In fact, the Media Ink release quoted Coletta saying, “This is very much deserved, the work of Andy and his team this year for me was exemplary.”

When asked if it would be possible to get in touch with Coletta, Media Ink’s Anna Morgan provided an e-mail address and told Pollstar, “He is in the U.K. till Thursday.”

Coletta hasn’t responded to e-mails, but Cotton has come to his defense.

“It’s my belief that John Coletta was not totally culpable for what happened in Spain,” Cotton said. “I hope that he agrees to air his story to Pollstar as I believe it will settle a number of outstanding issues.”

There is no suspicion that Cotton or TAO were in any way involved in the financial problems behind Seabreeze. NOEA general secretary John Barton said the award is fully deserved and was supported by several letters of recommendation.

Cotton has won numerous industry awards, including last year’s Total Production gong for production manager of the year. He is also a regular speaker at the Emergency Planning College in Easingwold.

“NOEA could not be expected to know about the events in Spain and we were certainly not made aware of these circumstances until now,” Barton added.

When told Coletta was in the U.K., Garcia Biosca said the APM, which has 20 plus members and includes all the leading Spanish promoters, calls upon him to “come back to Spain and face up to the responsibility for the canceled shows.”

–John Gammon