Heading backstage for an interview with The Who at Madison Square Garden in New York in the early 1970s, Barbara Charon mistook her for being a collegiate.
Women’s careers in music in those days were “few and far between,” the PR guru and new Chelsea FC manager told BBC News, and so The Guardian thought they must have been there for only “one reason”.
“I turned up and said, ‘I’m on the guest list,'” recalls Charon, who used to write for magazines like Sounds and Rolling Stone, and the guy just went, ‘Yeah, sure you are! “Very lofty and because I was female.”
The Chicagoan moved to The Who’s hometown of London several years later, in 1974, and found it to be a similar story. “When I first came to England and started freelance at NME, the only other women in the paper were a New York photographer, freelancer, and editorial secretary; and there was another British photographer, Penny Smith,” she explained. “So there were very few women.
“And the [it was] The same with record companies and [women] They always really got down to certain types of jobs like contacting artists, where they would book restaurants, hotels, and travel.” Charon eventually transitioned from being a music journalist to working in public relations and media.
“There really weren’t many female department directors or people in important positions, so [things have] completely changed.”
Charon, known affectionately (and in some quarters, fearfully) in the industry as “BC,” speaks after the release of her memoir, Access All Areas, which reflects on her 50-year career in music as a writer, publicist and co-director at MBC PR. Her own ; As well as follow the beloved blues.
Written in lockdown mode, with little encouragement from former client and recent fellow rock biographer Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, Victoria Segal described the book in The Times as “an irrepressible account of nearly five decades in the music industry and is a show Less attractive., more view on the side stage of the machine that allows the show to continue.”
“I would have liked more in this aspect of being a woman, albeit a strong one, in a man’s world,” Barbara Elaine added in the Observer. “All in all, though, what a voice and what a read.”
Charon’s career has seen her honored multiple times at Music Week, including at the Women In Music Awards. The publication called her “one of the most successful and enduring instrumentalists in the music industry”.
Madonna, one of Charon’s oldest clients, recently said she was making her next self-titled movie herself to prevent “misogynistic men” from telling her story.
She remembers watching the relatively unknown young singer from Detroit make her London debut at Coco, formerly Camden Palace, in 1983, in front of 1,000 people. When Madonna returned a few years later, it was for two nights that they ran out at Wembley.
“That kind of rise will never happen again,” she says of the Queen of Pop. “Her dominance was very fast.”
She noted that it was “incredibly exciting to be present and involved in” the emergence of such a successful phenomenon.
“People always ask me if she has changed and I don’t think she has, she has always been so ambitious and so smart,” Charon says. “Most of the really great artists have a sense of themselves not just in terms of music, but image, and everything, and Madonna had it all.
“But she’s also incredibly human like everyone else and wants to know, ‘Was she really that good?’ “
One incident involving a tabloid using an improperly taken photo of Madonna, against the star’s wishes, gave Sharon one of the most “nervous” moments of her career. But – unlike Primal Scream and REM, who split from Charone – nothing has stopped her and Madonna despite their 40 years of working closely together.
“When you work with people at this level, it’s great of course, you can be a hero, but you can also be a villain…Sometimes things aren’t your fault.”
The cover of Charon appears alongside another long-term client, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, who previously commissioned her to write his (and she) first official autobiography.
“I wrote that when Keith Richards walked into a room, rock ‘n’ roll came after him, and I still think it’s a great line,” she smiles.
In 1977, after Richards suggested she come to join the band in Canada where they were recording a live album, Charon, who was no stranger to the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, found herself in Richards’ camp during one of the most insanely “most” of it. Shaken believes “his career moments. By the time my plane landed, he had been arrested for possession of heroin,” she says.
“After doing club performances, everyone left and I stayed, and it was a really great bonding experience. To see someone pass by [that] – He could have gone to jail – it was realistic to say the least, and scary, but it was also great because it gave me time to get to know him under really stressful circumstances, so it kind of set the framework for me a book… I was lucky” .
Richards’ punishment was to play a concert for the blind, which Charon says is “probably the weirdest sentence ever.”
There was a cartoon [London Evening] The standard that took place immediately after it with some blind people and on the caption said: “What did we do wrong?!” It’s never going to happen now, it’s politically incorrect.”
During his stint writing Richards’ book, at the guitarist’s famous Redlands estate in West Sussex, the Chicago baseball fan began to show his interest in football on television. Soon she found herself going to watch matches at her local stadium, Stamford Bridge.
“I have always loved sports and am obsessed with football and have had a season ticket since the early 1980s,” she says proudly.
Charon’s regular playmates from within her musical circles have included recently departed Depeche Mode keyboardist Andy Fletcher, as well as Suggs, who represented her when he sang in the 1997 FA Cup Final in Chelsea alongside the players.
Her book shows that she broke up for a rowdy lunch with former owner Ken Bates to deal with the fallout from another client, a controversy brought up by comedian Russell Brand. Madonna’s appearance on the front page of The Sun also depicts her wearing a Chelsea shirt.
In March, the club was put up for sale in “unprecedented” conditions, in the words of Charon, before its owner Roman Abramovich was punished for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Looking to represent fans on the board, the new consortium’s co-owners are looking to former The Times executive editor (and Beatles fan) Lord Daniel Finkelstein, who in turn recommended his long-time partner Sharon join him.
So, at the age of 70, Charon once again excitedly and fearlessly moves into a traditionally male-dominated arena.
“A lot of people talked about putting fans on the board, but no one really did, and they did,” she says. “Danny was a fan and they wanted a woman and they asked him if he knew anyone and he proposed to me.
So I met Jonathan Goldstein, then I met Todd Boehle and the Clearlake men [co-owners/directors] And obviously I never imagined that would happen, that I would be involved with Chelsea, so now I’m really excited.
“I would say it was a dream come true, but I’ve never dreamed of something so amazing as this.”
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