Daniel Sparks here, I go by Danny. My friend Neil asked if I wanted a summer job as a “roadie,” someone who went with a band to do all the non-music things that need done. I agreed. In 1969, I figured it would be an adventure of a lifetime. It was far more than that.
I’m a bit older than the rest of the guys by a couple of years. I studied business in college, and knew nothing about music. The rest of the guys studied music in college, and knew nothing about business. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be just a roadie for long. Especially because the band had less than a month to establish itself or go out of existence.
I went along with the band and every member became my good friend for decades. I didn’t need to know much about music to realize these guys were way above the level of the competition before their first rehearsal. I also realized these guys had no idea of their potential, and were ripe for being victimized by an industry that exploited the talented but ignorant for its own benefit.
They signed a two-year contract with somebody they thought could help them; he could only limit them. They were being offered little money and none of the amenities standard among music event promoters. I didn’t need to know anything about how to make music, just about the industry. I did basic research and was off to the races.
I negotiated their agreements and got them hotel rooms, catering and a lot better money. I negotiated discounts, found them opportunities and got them financial security. I introduced processes that bypassed a lot of the Sturm und Drang around their industry.
I made money, got a career redirection and learned an incredible amount about real tolerance and inclusivity. Mostly, I made great friends for the rest of my life.