The Boss – Joel Peresman, Drawn to the Music

I’VE always loved music. I remember saving 63 cents when I was 6 so my mother could buy me my first single, and my older sisters bringing home Beatles and Rolling Stones albums, which I listened to endlessly. Unfortunately, after several years of trumpet and guitar lessons, it was evident that I had no musical talent. Still, I knew I wanted to be around music.

I went to the University of Texas at Austin, where I received a degree in finance. During the summers, I worked for a concert promoter in Pittsburgh, my hometown, and during the school year I embraced and was inspired by Austin’s vibrant music scene.

My father was a merchandise manager for Gimbels, the department store, in Pittsburgh. A week after I graduated from college in 1978, I went with him to New York to try to set up meetings with the limited contacts I had. By chance, one of his vendors mentioned that his cousin was the songwriter Sammy Cahn and that he would call him.

I went to Sammy’s office in Manhattan. There were pictures of him with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. I told him I liked the idea of working for a booking agency. He picked up the phone and called Lou Weiss, head of the William Morris Agency in New York at the time. Lou told me to come right over. They offered me a position a week later.

My first job was in the mailroom. I was fortunate to get out of the mailroom after only three months to work for Michael Farrell, who represented some of the biggest music acts in the company. Not that it was especially glamorous — as an assistant, you might not push a mail cart any more, but you answer phones, run errands, type contracts and read everything you come across.

In 1981, I left William Morris when Michael and the head of the William Morris music department started the International Talent Group. We represented and booked acts like David Bowie, Genesis, Pink Floyd and Tom Waits worldwide.

In 1995, I joined Madison Square Garden to be vice president of concerts, and it was pretty spectacular. Eventually, I was promoted to senior vice president of concerts and events for Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, then executive vice president of concerts and entertainment.

I was able to help produce some of the world’s biggest concerts, and once-in-a lifetime events like the Concert for New York City, after Sept. 11. The concert was one of the most heartfelt, emotional events I’ve been associated with.

I was at MSG almost 10 years. Then a position came up at Clear Channel, as chief operating officer for New York. I spent a year there, and then an old friend and colleague told me about a position as president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. The foundation was started 25 years ago and works to support and raise money for the museum and the soon-to-open library and archives. I signed on in July 2006.

The museum, which is in Cleveland, is a great family destination: Teenagers walk out knowing the story of rock…

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