Marcie Allen Remembers Jack Boyle: ‘He Gave Me a Chance’

Marcie Allen
– Marcie Allen

Marcie Allen, founder and president of MAC Presents, remembers Jack Boyle, who changed the music exec’s life after he hired her for an internship at Cellar Door Productions.

The concert and promotion business
lost a legend this week, but rest assured his legacy will continue for generations. 

I first met Jack Boyle in 1995 when I arrived in D.C. as a 21-year-old college kid. I was hungry to make a mark on the music industry and vowed to learn as much as I could that summer. Jack Boyle and his business partner, Dave Williams, invited me to intern at Cellar Door in D.C.  I had packed my car for the trip back to college in Memphis in anticipation of my senior year at Rhodes College. As luck would have it, I was summoned instead into the office of one of the most calculated risk-takers in the concert music industry.  The bags never made it back to Memphis and neither did I. 

Cigarette dangling from his mouth, Jack Boyle (and Dave Williams) offered me a full-time job as director of marketing for Cellar Door. I had to decide whether to head back to the frat boys and textbooks that may have led me down a more well-traveled path, or to take a risk and start my career a year early under the wing of one the best in the music industry.  As I normally did, and still do, I chose the path less traveled – more risk, more fun, more pressure.  I knew Jack was wise and he saw something in me.  I trusted that instinct.  I called, and laid my cards down on the table – the same way Jack loved to do in a poker game where they often landed on the winning side of the deck.

                                               Jack Boyle of Cellar Door Productions, Dead at 83

Jack grew up on both sides of the track and he never took a conventional route to any of his many achievements. Why should I? He inspired me. I unpacked my beat-up Honda and agreed to my first real employment contract to forego a diploma. Jack was raised by a strong woman when his father passed away at a young age. I think that Jack was able to spot potential without being blinded by gender. I was young, energetic, and had zero experience aside from booking my high school prom band and an assortment of college shows. He never condescended to me one time despite the fact that I made plenty of rookie mistakes.  Jack didn’t coddle, but he was careful to do more building up than tearing down.       

Jack offered grace and taught me the critical importance of relationships within the music industry. He taught me to return every phone call, every day – there was no out-of-office reply at that time.  The phone was where business was done, and where key relationships were created and maintained.  Jack’s professional relationships were not limited to business deals. While I was speeding around D.C. trying to impress, I was stopped by the D.C. police. Somehow the conversation with the officer led to questions about my job.  I told them that I worked for Jack and Dave and they let me go.   

Jack also understood that competition is a good thing. Jack and Dave dominated the DC music scene and maintained strong relationships with the competition.  I worked the first season at Nissan Pavilion (now Jiffy Lube Pavilion) and later worked at the Bayou in Georgetown and on the Nation ballroom opening in southeast DC.

The industry was different then. I remember working HFS Festival at RFK Stadium promoting the Nissan Pavilion summer concert series. Five of my friends had worked 18 hours helping me get ready. Not one of my friends expected to be paid. Jack asked how much I paid them and I said nothing. He pulled out $2,500 cash for me to pay my friends. He told me that you get what you pay for. Take care of people who work hard because usually the hardest workers do not expect anything. 

 The solid friendship between Jack and Dave was something I always admired. I never saw them fight. They told me not to ever fight over money. Fight over things that truly matter. Cellar Door Concerts certainly mattered.  I am amazed by what he built Cellar Door into and then sold to SFX for over $100 million.  Appropriately, Jack became its chairman.  

 Jack Boyle gave me a chance. I like to think I was one of his winning poker bets. He was most certainly one of mine.   

Marcie Allen is the founder and president of MAC Presents.