Manager, Agent for '60s and '70s Musicians
Harold Carter Burrows (Hal Carter), manager and agent: born Liverpool
13 July 1935; married (one son, two daughters); died London 13 July
Hal Carter in 1958 established the very successful entertainment
agency Hal Carter Organisation, concentrating on Sixties and Seventies
music. Surprisingly for a manager and agent, he was much loved by his
artists and offered guidance on every aspect of their work - choosing
songs, producing records, determining promotion and, most of all,
Born Harold Carter Burrows in 1935, he was raised in the tough
Scotland Road locality in Liverpool. He worked as a foreman for the
chemical company Union Carbide but in his spare time organised local
rock'n'roll shows. In 1958 he attempted to place one of his acts on a
Marty Wilde tour, which had come to the Liverpool Empire. Wilde's
manager, Larry Parnes, showed no interest but he was impressed at the
way Carter smuggled Wilde into the theatre to avoid screaming fans.
"Parnes gave me ten bob [50p] for my trouble," Carter recalled, and
that should have set off alarm bells because he was a very mean man,
but it was show business. Two weeks later he asked me if I would work
for him at £10 a week. I was earning £18 at Union Carbide but I said
yes and went to London.
During 1959 Carter worked on the road as Marty Wilde's personal
manager and then was moved to Parnes's new protégé, Billy Fury, who
was also from Liverpool. Fury had a damaged heart following rheumatic
fever as a child, but he took little care of himself, smoking heavily,
exerting himself on stage and spending his spare time in wet fields
Parnes realised that UK rock'n'roll fans wanted to see the real thing
and he signed Eddie Cochran (whose star was on the rise) and Gene
Vincent (a Grade A troublemaker who had union problems in the United
States) for an extensive tour with Carter as tour manager. Cochran,
who came from California, hated the British weather, but he befriended
Carter and asked him to leave Parnes and become his manager in the US.
Carter's relationship with Gene Vincent was very different. At first
Vincent's demands were just ridiculous - how could Carter find him a
pizza in North Wales at 11pm in 1960? - but he soon discovered why
Vincent was bad news in America:
Gene Vincent used to carry a gun and a knife around with him, which he
called Henry. He would say to people, "Do you want to meet Henry?" and
he would pull out his knife. He had a street-gang mentality and he
terrorised the tour bus one night coming back from Ipswich. He ripped
the bass player's suit and five of us jumped off at the lights in
Romford, even though we lived in north London.
Larry Parnes took Carter off the tour on the last night because he
needed him for a recording of the television programme Wham! The
package played in Bristol and Eddie Cochran was killed in a car
accident on his return to London. "That accident would never have
happened if I'd been there," Carter claimed:
They wanted to get back to London quickly and so they didn't want to
use the tour bus. A taxi driver quoted them £30 and they thought it
was a bit steep. Someone borrowed his mate's car and said that he
would take them. He had no insurance and he took a wrong turning just
before the bridge at Chippenham. He was heading back to Bristol when
the accident occurred.
Carter continued to work on Larry Parnes's extravaganzas and on one
occasion sacked Georgie Fame, one of the supporting acts, for defying
him by playing jazz on a rock'n'roll show.
In 1962 Hal Carter persuaded Oriole Records to let him make a single,
"Twistin' Time is Here" and "Come On and Twist". He was listed as the
sole composer for "Come On and Twist" and, when asked how he came to
write the music when he did not play an instrument, he replied, "It
wasn't difficult. Eddie Cochran had shown me a couple of chords."
Carter himself left Parnes in 1963. Parnes was furious, refusing to
sanction a record that Billy Fury had made of one of Carter's songs,
"Please Love Me". He worked as the road manager for the Kinks before
establishing his own company in 1968, which soon became known as the
Hal Carter Organisation. He went on to manage and produce the band
Liverpool Express, who had hits with "You are My Love" and "Every Man
Must Have a Dream", both in 1976. He also produced a Top Ten single
for Coast to Coast, "(Do) The Hucklebuck" (1981).
In 1982 he persuaded Billy Fury to leave his farm and return to public
performance. Some say that the strain of the comeback killed him but
Carter denied this. "If Billy were here now," he said,
he would tell you that he lived 15 years longer than he expected. He
was always saying, "If I make 30, I'll be delighted", and that's why
he drove fast cars and did everything at top whack. His life was going
to be short, but it was going to be great: that was his mentality.
In later years Carter acted for Marty Wilde, Eden Kane and John Leyton
and also set up touring versions of well-known bands with rather
suspect line-ups including the Tornados, the Equals, Middle of the
Road and the New Seekers. Carter was made for tribute bands and he
managed Rumours of Fleetwood Mac, T.Rextasy and his particular
favourites, the Illegal Eagles.
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