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Giorgio Gomelsky: The Pop Paragon

Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 22 June 1969

Author's note, 2018. Georgio died in New York in January 2014, aged 81. Everybody with even a passing interest knows that Georgio, whose dark bearded saturnine good looks, penetrating gaze and thick European originally Russian accent reminded himself of Rasputin, was pre-eminent in enabling R&B-based rock music in London and then the UK in the first years of the 1960s. He was not a producer, but his vision and drive as a promoter were as influential in his field as were John Hammond, Jac Holzman and Danny Fields in theirs.

Georgio was a charming imaginative energetic honest passionate hustler, and practically unique in having no interest in making lots of money for himself. What interested him was the music. He was the marriage broker. He introduced musicians who he could hear could work together to one another. He was also the midwife. He nursed new bands into howling life.

He was at home also in Switzerland (in my piece below I describe first meeting him in 1969 at Claude Nobs's venue at the Montreux Casino), and Germany, Italy and France and later the USA. In London his first passion was jazz and blues, and then having heard Alexis Korner around 1961, R&B. I met him again immediately afterwards. This was years after his time shaping the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds, when Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger and the Trinity were signed to his label Marmalade, which went bust soon afterwards. Georgio left for New York in 1974, enthusiastic as ever.

It is sometimes said that Georgio is now forgotten. It is true that the bands he fostered tended to forget or ignore his influence, and when they became rich did not recognise or reward him as they should have done. (Rock bands' general ly ripoff regular and occasional supporting bands and players, sidesmen, previous band members, set and album designers, and anybody else who does not have solid legal agreements for fees and when appropriate royalties.This is an outrage, well worth a detailed denunciation). But writers in the know remember Georgio well. After his death, The Guardian (Adam Sweeting), The Independent (Pierre Perroni) and the New York Times ran long appreciations, and The Daily Telegraph also includes a nine-minute video interview with him. The long Wikipedia entry is excellent. I also recommend an interview with Georgio on TapeOp about his work with the Yardbirds, which is on https://tapeop.com/articles/62/giorgio-gomelsky/,and Jesse Malin's story on how in New York when he was 15, Georgio supported and inspired Jesse, now a substantial star, which is on https://www. facebook.com/ jessemalin/photos/happy-birthday-to-giorgio-gomelsky-here-is-a-message-from-jesse-about-his-late-g/10156228600738307/

 

Total word count of piece: 955

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