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Record company legend : Joe Mansfield

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JJ Rocks Article # 59: Record company legend : Joe Mansfield
From St. Croix Music Magazine, Issue # 11, August, 2007
This is a picture of Joe busy Marketing Garth brooks!

Here below this dotted line is a bio that I downloaded about Joe Mansfield. I’d liked to thank who ever wrote it because it really gives you an idea of this mans great accomplishments. But having Joe as a friend can only come from the experience. I was one of the lucky ones.
• 1962 Disc-Jockey and music director for KMAC/KISS FM in San Antonio, Texas
• 1968 Sales, promotion and marketing for CBS Records.
• 1969 Doubled sales for CBS Records and named Promotion Man of the Year
• 1977 Vice President of Merchandising at CBS New York
• Worked with CBS Artists; Boston, Michael Jackson, Charlie Daniels Band and Meatloaf
• Named Vice President of Marketing for Columbia Records guiding the careers of Chicago, Billy Joel, Journey, Willie Nelson, Barbara Streisand, Neil Diamond, Kenny Loggins, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Toto, Aerosmith, Loverboy, Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd
• 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981 Columbia named "Label of the Year" as a result of his efforts
• Vice President of Contemporary Music for RCA Records in New York
• Entire roster, which included Diana Ross, Rick Springfield, Jefferson Starship, Eurythmics, Kenny Rogers and Hall & Oats gained multi-platinum status under his guidance
• Vice President of Sales & V.P. of Marketing at CEMA Distribution in Los Angeles
• Went to work for Capitol Records-Los Angeles, successfully marketing Heart, Bob Seger, Poison, Corey Hart, Pet Shop Boys, Bonnie Raitt, Queensrych, among many others
• Launched Garth Brooks and Mr. Mansfield's marketing plan resulted in Garth selling 100 million units in less than 10 years (and many more since then). Garth Brooks / Mansfield total unit sales is over 130 million units; a marketing feat never matched by anyone.

• 1992 started marketing company, Mansfield-Martinovich & Associates
• 1996 CEO and Co-President of Asylum Records-Nashville guiding the careers of Emmylou Harris, Bryan White, Lila McCann and Kevin Sharp
• Mr. Mansfield is the current Marketing Consultant to Garth Brooks. Recently Brooks came out of retirement and Mansfield & Brooks have again hit the top 20 charts and sold gold and platinum in 2005
• He has been awarded over 100 gold and multi-platinum records for his expertise

I first met Joe Mansfield in St. Croix at a place called “The Grandstand” in 1981. One of the kids who would come to see my band “JJ Rocks” approached the stage one night and said “The vice president of Columbia Records is at the bar. Would you like to meet him?” Of course I thought it was a joke and I just played along. So after the set we went over to the bar and he introduced me to Joe Mansfield. And right after he told me his name he handed me a card that said “Vice president of CBS Columbia Records” and then he said “This is my old card; I’m with RCA records now. Well to say the least I was blown away. And it was not only by his high position in the music world, but because he talked to me as if he were just another nice guy at the bar. And it turned out that since I had a short experience as a producer at Gold Star studios in Hollywood, we knew some of the same people like record executive Evan Reynolds. But Joe gave me a whole new outlook on people in the record company business.

When it was time for Joe to go back to New York he invited me and the girl singer in the band to his house the morning that he had to leave. And even though he was busy preparing for his departure he still took time to talk with me and even sit and listen to some of my songs on my little plastic tape recorder while Laura the singer cooked him a quick breakfast. And as he patiently listened he looked up after one of the songs and said “That song is a hit! I’ll stake my reputation on it”. Music videos had just come out and the song was called “I want to be in a video”.

I was thrilled to say the least and after breakfast he gave us a ride back to town on his way to the airport. And on the way I said “Joe is there any advice that you can give me before you go?” And as he was driving along the twisting island roads he looked over to me and said “Yes there is”. “Pick a direction and change the bands name”. Well I guess I wasn’t very good at taking advice because I continued to play all styles of music and I still use the nickname “JJ Rocks”. But at least I knew that I wanted to be a songwriter and not a rich rock star.

A few months later my band was playing at a huge hotel in Manhattan. I knew that’s where Joe’s office was but I had no idea how to get in touch with him. I mean you just don’t walk up to the main desk and say “Hi, I’m here to see Joe Mansfield”. But early one morning I thought I would give it a try anyway. So when I talked to the lady at the main entrance of RCA records and told her I was a friend of Joe’s, she made a call and then said “Have a seat”. I couldn’t believe it! Then a lady came down and said “Hi JJ, I’m Elie, Joe’s secretary. Come with me”.

So we went on an elevator to a very high floor and then down a corridor with gold records covering both sides. I was almost speechless. Finally we reached a huge office with a giant desk and large windows that overlooked the city. Then she told me that Joe was out of town and asked if there was anything that she could do for me. So I told her that I had sent a tape to Joe and I was wondering if he had heard it yet. So she looked on his desk and it was there. She said “Did A+R hear this yet? I said “I don’t know”. Then she got on the phone and I heard her say ‘I’m sending down a tape and I want you to listen to because it’s by a personal friend of Joe Mansfield”. I was blown away! Then she said “Do you have any of Joe’s music?” I had no idea what she meant so she walked over to a huge beautiful hutch and pulled out a little key and opened it up. There where rows and rows of newly released tapes that weren’t even in the stores yet. So she started to hand me tape after tape of bands like Steele breeze, The Bow Wow Wows, and many other bands that I never heard of including one by the most beautiful women that I have ever seen, Tani Cane.

Later that week I was playing at the hotel and outside the window I could see a cab pulling up and Joe was getting out of it. He came into the club and offered to buy me a drink while he told me about his trip. He said that he just got off of the plane coming back from Japan where he was in a meeting about these “little records” that were going to put albums out of business. I didn’t realize at the time that I was one of a very few non-record company people being told about the launch of a new format called CD’s. Then he said that there was going to be a board meeting in a few days about my tape.

After that night I waited on pins and needles knowing that my songs were going to be heard by the entire board at RCA records. But when I called Joe said “They liked your songs, but they didn’t like your band”. Even though I was a happy song writer, it was a hard thing to tell the band. But since my main thing was writing, I dealt with it. I had to form a new band to do my music.

But unfortunately my new musicians from Baltimore (my hometown) were more interested in their weekly paycheck for playing cover music and that didn’t work out. I was going to tell Joe about this great local band “Crack the Sky”, but for personal reasons that I won’t mention I held back. So it was back to St. Croix, but this time it was to make it my home.

I didn’t want to bother Joe anymore because I’m sure that he had probably showed his kindness to other up and coming musicians that abused their right to such a great connection, and I’d rather remember him as a friend. But one day he called me in St. Croix to tell me that Garth Brooks (who he marketed and made famous) was doing one last album and that I could submit a song if I wanted to. I sent a song called “Between the tides” which was kind of “artsy” and later on another call he told me that Garth wanted to do more traditional country songs on this album. So I wrote an old fashioned love song called “Three words meant for two” (they begin with I and end with you) This song is now in my musical and copyrighted. But I never sent it to Joe because as time went on I became more interested in theatrical music and Joe Mansfield was just a fantastic memory (until recently).

Joe Mansfield being interviewed by JJ Rocks when he and Dorothy spent 10 days in Nashville at Joe's home:

JJ: What was your first musical job?

JM: I was a disc jockey in college for years. I played country music and hated it. The first two weeks I hated it and then I liked it. I never heard it before.

JJ: How did you go from being a DJ to being in the record company business?

JM: CBS radio station. CBS Records…. I just moved over…. Different division….

JJ: How many record companies have you worked for and what were your positions?

JM: CBS for 17 years, vice president of marketing, RCA for 3 years, vice president of contemporary music, Capitol records, vice president of marketing for 5 years in Hollywood and two years here (Nashville), and then 2 years as CEO at Electra/ Asylum. I was always a vice president, president, or CEO.

JJ: Did you have a favorite company that you worked for?


JJ: What was one of your most famous encounters with a famous artist?

JM: Bob Dylan. He was the first artist that I ever worked with in '65. He came to do a show in Austin Texas. I told him that I had a lot of people that wanted to interview him and he said "I don't do that". And I said "come on". I had a suit and tie on. Then he says "If you find an old garage that has the walk down oil pit, I'll do it there from the bottom of the pit". He thought that he blew me off. So I found one, went back and got him, got the TV stations, radio and press there. He liked me! In fact I was the only record guy that he ever liked. He hated the record people because they're all suits. I was a suit, but you know, he liked me. And he had some “hang arounder” with him who is probably now the world’s most famous photographer "Annie Leibovitz", she was there. She's done a ton of work for famous people.

JJ: How did you become the man behind all the sales of the Garth Brooks records?

JM: I did the marketing. Marketing runs companies. People don't realize that. If you don't market, you don't sell. It's real simple.

JJ: Was Garth with Capitol when you were here in Nashville?

JM: He came out in April of '89 with a record. I was still in Hollywood. We sold 300 thousand. I moved here in April of '90 and in 3 months I had it platinum.

JJ: What kind of person is Garth Brooks?

JM: Great guy. He is what you see. He's just a terrific guy. Good dad, good husband. He's just a great person. He takes care of his friends and he's very loyal to people that are loyal to him. He's a great guy.

JJ: What are some of the future plans for Garth Brooks? Is he going to record or tour?

JM: He won't tell me. I don't know. I said "I want a new studio album and I want a world tour. Let's go!"

JJ: He doesn’t know yet?

JM: He said he was retired until his kids are in college. And they are 16, 14, and 12. So, that's like six years from now. But hopefully he'll change his mind and go soon.

JJ: What do you think of St. Croix?

JM: I love St. Croix! I went down there for years and years 4 times a year through the 70's and up until Sam died (His great friend Sam Marmaduke). And he's been dead 12 years I think, and that was the last time I was there. But I love St. Croix. I don't think that I can live there full time. I don't think that I can live on any island full time. But I enjoyed it, I love that island. I know it really well.

JJ: Earlier you said that you used to drive a lot and go down many of our roads.

JM: I've done every road down there. The first couple of years I rented those motor scooter things. I went out to point Udall and over those damn rocks. I tore the thing up and fell down on it.

JJ: What do you think of the work that Dorothy and I have done with St. Croix Music Magazine?

JM: I think it's fabulous! You must be putting in hours and hours every week!

One can only dream that Joe Mansfield would start his own record company because then there would be a possibility that the independent musicians of today would finally be able to merge with someone they could trust with their future.

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