Lessons Learned: Jack Boyle

There is a common thread among the most successful promoters: the business got learned the hard way.

Sometimes it’s as simple as finding out that you can’t book a concert the same night as a high school football game. Other times it’s complicated, like realizing during settlement that it’s important to read the fine print on a rental agreement.

Michael Cohl booked Buck Owens into an empty Maple Leaf Gardens, and learned to the tune of $20,000 that, back then, “No. 1 records” went to the highest bidder. But no one questions King Cohl’s success since then.

For the next several weeks, Pollstar will feature tales and advice from veteran promoters – including Chuck Morris, Louis Messina, former Summerfest organizer Bo Black and several surprises – in hopes that the incoming freshman class will learn from them or at least know that when they stumble, they do not fall alone. Some will be long tales, some short.

We begin with a quick lesson learned from Jack Boyle, founder of Cellar Door Entertainment and builder of the Nissan Pavilion. Boyle is retired after selling his company to SFX Entertainment in 1998. – Joe Reinartz

“I will tell you a story that few people will tell. Going back 20-30 years, there was a young guy named Al Haymon. And Al had a lot of acts as a promoter. Sometimes he would let other promoters in on a date, sometimes he would sell them the date, and sometimes he wouldn’t.

“But every time Al sold an act to me, I lost money. That’s when I learned my lesson: that Al Haymon is one of the smartest, brightest promoters in the country. I quit being burned (by buying shows Haymon knew were stiffs) and would only work with him (on the successful ones).

“That taught me more than anything else: learning how to read people. It was one of my best lessons. After that, I was the one who arranged to have him brought in by SFX. That’s how much I respected him. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Or in his case, get him to join us.” – Jack Boyle