The Man Who Keeps Legends Alive
Jeff Jampol sees to it that stars like Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Tupac Shakur stay in the spotlight
The Wall Street Journal
Jan. 9, 2014 10:27 a.m. ET
By STEFANIE COHEN
Janis Joplin is having a big year. She is playing to standing ovations every night at New York’s Broadway Lyceum Theatre, where singer Mary Bridget Davies appears to be channeling the wild-child singer from the grave. She’s also the subject of a coming documentary film, has her own clothing line and is going to be on a stamp from the U.S. Postal Service.
Not too shabby for a woman who’s been dead since 1970.
Jeff Jampol, who manages the Janis Joplin estate, is positioning the queen of rock ‘n’ roll to have one of her best business years since, well, she was alive.
Mr. Jampol, who also manages the Doors, as well as the estates of Jim Morrison, Tupac Shakur, Henry Mancini, Otis Redding, Peter Tosh, the Ramones and Rick James, releases records, creates merchandising lines, and produces live theater, among other projects that expose the deceased legends to new audiences. “I manage these artists exactly as if they were alive still,” says Mr. Jampol. “The only thing we don’t do is tour and write new music.”
Since the artists can’t tour, Mr. Jampol is doing the next best thing—making inroads on Broadway, where actors can stand in for the singers, as in the case of Ms. Joplin, whose show, “A Night With Janis Joplin,” toured for two years before coming to Broadway this fall, where it’s doing respectable business. It just played its 100th performance and last week’s ticket sales were $370,000.
Mary Bridget Davies in ‘A Night With Janis Joplin’ at the Lyceum Theatre Joan Marcus
Ms. Joplin isn’t the only one having a Broadway debut. Mr. Shakur’s lyrics and music will make up the score to the Broadway show “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” opening in May. The show, produced by Eric Gold, Jessica Green and Afeni Shakur, and directed by Kenny Leon, tells the story of a man who, upon returning home from jail, has hard choices to face back on the street.
“We think of him like our Stephen Sondheim,” said Ms. Green. “Tupac wrote about universal themes, love, loss, violence, and the day-to-day struggles of humanity. It’s the stuff of Shakespeare—and the songs lend themselves perfectly to a Broadway show.”
Mr. Jampol, who lives in Los Angeles, is currently developing Broadway shows with the Doors and Henry Mancini that he says will respect their music, while exposing the artists’ catalogs to new ears.
In the early 2000s, Mr. Jampol was working as a music manager and teaching classes on the music industry at UCLA. Danny Sugerman, a friend of Mr. Jampol’s and the manager for the Doors, would come to him seeking career advice. In 2003, he asked Mr. Jampol to become his business partner managing the Doors. When Mr. Sugerman died in 2005, Mr. Jampol took over as their manager. A few years later, he took on the estate of Jim Morrison as well.
The three remaining members of the Doors at the time, Ray Manzarek (who has since died), Robby Krieger, and John Densmore, gave Mr. Jampol a history lesson in their music and its meaning. In turn, Mr. Jampol learned how to manage the band and Mr. Morrison’s estate without cashing in on dubious projects. Jim Morrison, for instance, turned down a Buick commercial when he was alive, and the band has, to date, only allowed one of their songs, “Riders on the Storm,” to be licensed, for an ad for Pirelli Tires. It ran in the U.K. for about a week in the ’70s. “I felt awful about it,” Mr. Densmore says of the licensing agreement. “Jim’s ghost got to me.”
There have been plenty of other business opportunities. Under Mr. Jampol’s guidance, the band has sold across all platforms: Album sales have increased 12% this year over last, said Mr. Jampol. Retail merchandise, including T-shirts, calendars and posters, has jumped by 25%, he said. On Facebook, the Doors have more than 14 million fans, with approximately 80,000 new fans a week. “Jeff has really good taste, so if something cheesy comes down the pike, he won’t even consider it,” says Mr. Densmore.
When Laura Joplin, Janis’s sister, a former educational consultant who lives in Northern California, heard about Mr. Jampol’s work with the Doors, she wanted to meet him. “We inherited this responsibility,” Ms. Joplin, who was 21 when her sister died, says of her sister’s legacy. “And it’s not like there’s a school or anything.”
She says a lot of people weren’t interested in handling her sister’s estate. They wanted a living artist whose career was still growing, she says. But Mr. Jampol, who considers Ms. Joplin one of his heroes, jumped at the chance.
Now he oversees an apparel line, Made for Pearl, which is owned by Laura’s brother, Michael, and offers clothing inspired by Ms. Joplin’s iconic boho-chic look. The estate has worked with the U.S. Postal Service to create a commemorative stamp, out later this year, according to Mr. Jampol. A documentary, produced by Alex Gibney, is in production, and the writer Holly George-Warren is working on a new biography.
And because Ms. Joplin was amenable to advertisers (she wrote to the president of Southern Comfort and asked the beverage manufacturer to sponsor her, which they did—giving her a lynx coat and matching hat, as per her request), her song “Mercedes Benz” was used for a Super Bowl ad in 2011, for, well, Mercedes-Benz.
Corrections & Amplifications
In an earlier version of this article Ray Manzarek’s last name was incorrectly spelled as Manzerek, Danny Sugerman’s last name was incorrectly spelled as Sugarman and Robby Krieger’s first name was incorrectly spelled as Robbie.
Tupac Shakur Musical Sets Broadway Opening Date
The New York Times
Jan 8, 2014
by PATRICK HEALY
“Holler if Ya Hear Me,” a new musical inspired by the work of rapper Tupac Shakur, will begin performances on Broadway at the Palace Theater on May 26, the producers said on Wednesday. The $8 million production is not a musical biography about Shakur, who died in a drive-by shooting in 1996 at the age of 25; rather, the producers said in a statement, it is an original story about “friendship, family, revenge, change and hope” as poor urban residents struggle against challenges in their lives.
The show is to include several of Shakur’s songs, among them “Me Against the World,” “California Love” and “Keep Ya Head Up,” in addition to the title song.
The musical, which was developed in closed-door workshops, will open on Broadway without an out-of-town tryout run. It has a script by Todd Kreidler, who wrote a new stage version of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” that opened last month in Washington. The director is Kenny Leon, a Tony Award nominee for the 2010 revival of “Fences.” Casting and other production details will be announced later.
Among the producers of “Holler if Ya Hear Me” is Afeni Shakur, Tupac Shakur’s mother; Eric L. Gold, a television producer (“The Wayans Bros.”); and Shin Chun-soo, a prominent theater producer in South Korea.
The show’s opening night is scheduled for June 19. “Holler if Ya Hear Me” will not be in the running for the 2014 Tony Awards, the Broadway industry’s highest honor, because performances begin after the April cut-off for Tony eligibility.
THE DOORS INTERACTIVE iPAD APP GETS EXPANDED WITH MAJOR CONTENT UPDATE
Now Includes A Special Ray Manzarek Tribute
Featuring Video Interview With John Densmore And Robby Krieger
Acclaimed App Takes Fans On Immersive Digital Journey,
Telling The Band’s History Through Interactive Content, Music, Photos, Videos, Memorabilia And Graphic Novel
Available Now Exclusively On The App Store
Earlier this year, The Doors unveiled a first-of-its-kind iPad app, bringing the band’s story to life with an unprecedented immersive experience that delved deeply into every aspect of the band’s triumphant career with interactive content, unpublished band images and artwork, rare videos, music, and much more. Released by Warner Music Group’s Rhino Entertainment, the app, simply titled THE DOORS, has launched its first update today, on the eve of Jim Morrison’s birthday (December 8, 1943). THE DOORS APP is available exclusively on the App Store for the price of $2.99
In addition to upgrades to THE DOORS APP’s navigation and layout, the centerpiece of the updated version is the new “Ray Remembered” section dedicated solely to the band’s legendary keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who passed away earlier this year. For “Ray Remembered,” band members John Densmore and Robby Krieger sat down together for an on-camera interview reminiscing about the impact Manzarek had on the band and their own lives. The section also includes a new essay on Manzarek by Adam Holzman (son of Jac) as well as a new slideshow featuring rare and unseen images.
THE DOORS APP was conceived and produced by Elektra Records founder and Warner Music legend Jac Holzman, who signed the Doors to the label in 1966, and Robin Hurley; along with the participation of Densmore, Krieger, the late Manzarek, and the estate of Jim Morrison. Holzman, a pioneer in the music industry and a pivotal force throughout the band’s career, comes full circle with this app. Holzman and Warner Music bring The Doors into the digital age with a project that redefines how a band’s work can be chronicled in the virtual realm.
“The genesis of this project began with a desire to digitize the boxed set, to use new technology to improve upon a much-loved fan experience. It made total sense to choose The Doors. They have always been ‘ahead of the curve’ artists and their story is one of the great sagas in rock,” says Holzman. “Together with the band, we tell a compelling tale using materials from The Doors’ own archives and the Warner Music vault plus the hundreds of other sources we chased down – a wealth of treasures including previously unseen photos, fresh interviews, and behind the scenes insights and reflections. Delivered in a single download, this is a riveting approach to showcasing a band’s entire career. I believe Warner Music has set the bar higher for future music apps… and that is a very good thing to do!”
An intimate portrait of the band enjoying a drink at the Hard Rock Café — taken by legendary photographer Henry Diltz during a shoot for the Morrison Hotel album — greets visitors on the home page and guides them on a journey through the living history of one of rock’s most fascinating and incendiary groups.
THE DOORS APP is divided into several sections, proving endlessly intriguing for both veteran fans and new initiates with hundreds of photos, videos, and interviews. All six albums recorded by the original Doors foursome, as well as the two albums recorded later by the Doors as a trio, are spotlighted here through essays from counterculture icons including Patti Smith and Hunter S. Thompson, Doors historians such as David Fricke, Greil Marcus, and archivist David Dutkowski, as well as pieces from the band and personal reminiscences shared by Holzman. Other highlights extensive technical notes detailing all the equipment used to create every studio album.
Among the other centerpieces is a graphic novelization of the notorious Miami Incident, where Morrison was falsely accused of exposing himself during a 1969 concert. The infamous episode comes to life here through drawings by award-winning comic book artist Dean Haspiel, words by Adam Holzman, and rare audio of Morrison recorded during the show. This section also includes the once-confidential FBI report, the arrest report, a portion of Jim’s tongue-in-cheek testimony, Morrison’s mug shot, and his posthumous pardon issued in 2010.
Also featured are a comprehensive Timeline, a Cast Of Characters listing key people in the Doors’ universe, an interactive Doors Map of LA that focuses on prime locations in the band’s history, a Gallery filled with rare and iconic images, all song lyrics, in-app links to social media and the iTunes store, and a customizable Favorites area. All told, the app features over 500 images including band photos, album art, singles, international releases and memorabilia (posters, ticket stubs, advertisements, press releases, contracts, and related correspondence). The app also includes 44 short form videos and 60 audio segments. Holzman had referred to The Doors app as a “1600 piece jigsaw puzzle in three dimensions, which arrives on your iPad, elegantly pre-assembled.”
THE DOORS APP is available for $2.99 from the App Store on iPad or at www.AppStore.com.
Purchase The Doors App here: http://smarturl.it/doorsapp
The Doors App official trailer: http://youtu.be/o7wellAebWw
Interview: Niambe McIntosh
Peter Tosh’s legacy extends far beyond music. His work embodies a spirit of freedom that’s both inspiring and invigorating even today. It’s something crucial that everyone should ponder and pay homage too. That’s exactly what his family does with Peter Tosh’s EarthStrong Celebration. This year proved to be another powerful, passionate, and poignant experience for all in attendance—especially the family…
In this exclusive interview, ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino speaks to Peter Tosh’s youngest daughter Niambe McIntosh about EarthStrong and so much more.