Ken Kragen has managed and worked with the absolute biggest names in entertainment, artists like Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Lindsey Buckingham, and Burt Reynolds. He currently teaches a class at UCLA called Stardom Strategies for Musicians. Ken talks about starting out in the business by staging dances and music shows when his family moved from LA to Berkeley, building a reputation and producing concerts for bands like The Kingston Trio and the Limelighters. Upon graduating from Harvard Business School Ken became the Limelighter’s manager. After that Ken signed The Smothers Brothers, which developed into a hugely popular and groundbreaking show, often showcasing big rock acts like Bob Seger and The Who and launching the careers or people like Steve Martin and Rob Reiner.
Ken talks about discovering the group First Edition, which launched the career of Kenny Rogers and becoming Kenny’s manager when he went solo. At the time Ken was working for Jerry Weintraub, who managed Jon Denver and Bob Dylan, eventually striking out on his own and taking Harry Chapin with him as a client. Ken discusses Harry Chapin’s peerless dedication to philanthropy which inspired Ken and Kenny Rogers to get involved with benefits and to pick up the torch after Harry’s death. Ken goes on to talk about his Rule of Three’s, making 3 impressions in a concentrated period of time in order to generate awareness and gives an example of the rule’s action in the career of Lionel Richie.
We talk to Ken about his organizing the “We Are The World” project, an epic song collaboration to raise funds for humanitarian aid to Africa by 45 of the biggest names in music, including Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Cindy Lauper and Bob Dylan. Ken talks about his mom and Harry Chapin being his biggest inspirations for getting involved in charity work and shares his opinion that charity work should be an integral part of every artist’s career path.
Ken talks about how close the recording of We Are The World came to falling apart, and Bruce Springsteen’s role in keeping it together. We talk to Ken about his receiving the Personal Manager Hall Of Fame Award. He tells us about some of the subjects covered in his UCLA class and his book – Life is A Contact Sport; 10 Career Strategies That Work and talks about the challenges and opportunities of today’s music business environment.