Library of Articles

  • Library: Articles

He Makes The Stars Come Out Print-ready version

by Sylvia Rawlings
Weekend Magazine
February 25, 1970
Original article: PDF

When Perrin talks, the stars listen. Doing the listening here are singer-composer Joni Mitchell and record company boss Ian Ralfini.

What do Jimmy Young, the Rolling Stones and Frank Sinatra have in common? A fellow called Les. Quiet, modest, but...

The scene is London Airport. Pop-singer Lulu, in all-black gear, is sighted leaving the Customs by a group of enthusiastic press photographers.

Cameras click as the star's press agent organizes the scramble into a quick photo session. Then he sees her to a waiting car and drives to his Oxford Street office where the phones are ringing.

Can Jimmy Young be contacted before lunch? He's gone out with his mother. Where? The agent admits he hasn't the foggiest. But he'll find out. Can he call back in half an hour?

It's all a frantic whirl. But that's life when your name is Les Perrin, Press Agent to the stars.

He is adept at tracing girl vocalists to hairdressing salons, disc jockeys to dining haunts, and assembling a five-man pop group at the end of one phone for a newspaper quote.

Perrin has been in the business 20 years and seen his profession sneered at for stunt-pulling in its formative years and highly regarded as the express route to the stars in this space age.

His clients include the Rolling Stones, Tony Blackburn, Lulu, Herman's Hermits and Jimmy Young. He has handled Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, John Barry, Matt Monro and Ray Ellington.

American super stars like Sinatra and Dylan come under Perrin's wing when they are in Britain.

He was born in Manchester, has been a partner in a silk-screen printing business, a bad drummer in a band who was only kept on because he had know-how in getting engagements, and a journalist.

His assorted career landed him in Tin Pan Alley — "in a small office Billy Cotton managed to acquire for me," he explains.

One of his first clients was Johnny Dankworth's Band. Others filtered in. Like every other Press agent building, a business and a reputation, Perrin realized he had loaded himself with a round-the-clock job.

He is a modest dynamo, shuttling work between his office in Oxford Street and his home at Surbiton, Surrey, and reckons his non-ability to sell himself enabled him to develop the talent to limelight others.

Disasters crop up. But Perrin gets by because of a mutual confidence between the Press and his organization.

He says: "There was the Dylan incident. I arranged for a press conference on the Isle of Wight. The journalists all came but Bob wouldn't answer questions.

"It wasn't a case of being difficult. Some artists don't crave publicity. Sinatra is one. You can't predict their reaction to criss-cross questioning."

He regards the Stones as a civilized group who are easy to handle. He says: "They are natural story-breakers. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse."

He rarely "stunts" a story, but once produced six umbrellas on Marvin Rainwater's arrival at London Airport for a tour.

Perrin explains: "His first stop happened to be Manchester, my rainy old hometown. I saw in the stunt a good joke picture, especially as it was tied up with the name Rainwater."

Perrin received a dry letter from Manchester's town clerk which pointed out that Manchester had a below-average rainfall.

"I apologized," said Perrin. "As a Mancunian, I should have known better."

As a Press Agent it was worth a try.

Copyright protected material on this website is used in accordance with 'Fair Use', for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of the copyright owner(s). Please read Notice and Procedure for Making Claims of Copyright Infringement.

Added to Library on December 2, 2010. (3923)

Comments:

Log in to make a comment