Zappa's Manager Branching Out

By Bruce Duff

Music Connection, September 1981

Of all the adventures of Bennett Glotzer's professional life, surely the most rewarding to date is the current one – managing the career of Frank Zappa.

Zappa, one of modern music's most notorious and gifted individuals, is involved in numerous areas of entertainment – recording, filmmaking, touring and even symphonic concerts. Glotzer is involved in them all.

Glotzer management is a tightly knit, family-like group that handles the careers of Zappa and Holly Leven and Nina Hagen, two young singer/songwriters. Working out of a beautifully restored two-story house on Sunset Boulevard, Glotzer and his staff also administrate their clients' publishing and handle their publicity. They're also working on film distribution for Zappa's Baby Snakes and, when time allows, they're calling radio stations across America urging them to play more Zappa, particularly the current double-disc release, You Are What You Is.

Practicing as a lawyer in New York in the mid '60s, Glotzer became peripherally involved with the music business when he began representing some songwriters. In 1967, he did some legal work for the Blues Project, which was splitting up at the time. From the remnants of the Blues Project came Blood, Sweat and Tears and Seatrain, both of whom Glotzer began managing. He then formed a management company with Albert Grossman, who had handled Bob Dylan. Together in New York, the two handled the likes of The Band, Janis Joplin, Gordon Lightfoot, Tom Rush and Paul Butterfield.

Glotzer remembers, "After Janis died and various other things came down, I decided I wanted to move to California and Albert decided he really wanted to live in Woodstock instead of a large city, so we just split things up."

Glotzer moved to Los Angeles in 1974 and, after a meeting with Zappa set up by a mutual acquaintance, began managing him in 1976. Leven and Hagen were signed soon afterward.

Looking after Zappa's far-flung interests has Glotzer doing a good deal of globe-hopping. He recently spent some time in Poland organizing some special shows for Zappa.

"The Polish government," he says, "has wisely decided that they'd like Frank to come there next Spring and work with two fine Polish orchestras for the purpose of performing his symphony music in Poland and other cities in eastern and western Europe, which would probably include East Berlin, West Berlin, Vienna, Munich, Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam and possibly London. The concerts will result in world wide album releases of the music." Further down the road, Pierre Boulez is scheduled to conduct the music in Paris in 1983.

Besides being business-oriented, Glotzer has also got his own creative enterprises going. He has recently co-written a film script entitled Veteran's Day, the true story of John Gibran, a Vietnam vet who captured Griffith Park in 1974. Glotzer has met Gibran and interviewed his psychiatrist, and has newspaper clippings concerning Gibran's work with the U.S. government. The script is currently being submitted to major studios.

Glotzer's current staff includes Ronni Balter, the publishing administrator for Zappa's Munchkin Music, Open End Music, Oyster Music and others obtained through past management deals, and management reps Joan Abend, Camilla Fegy and Mitch Rose.

Glotzer Management's publishing concerns are growing. Brian Halio of the A&R department is on the lookout for new writers and material. Says Halio, "We're looking for hit songs – something you can feel and enjoy." He's quick to add, "We're not looking for 'formula' or a drone-beat. We're looking for special, different, "insightful" writers, poets ... bright people." In addition, they're looking for a song plugger to keep tabs on A&R men, producers and artists in order to hook up some of the firm's songs with recording artists. This person could be a songwriter or a musician, and prior experience at songplugging is not necessarily a factor. It would be helpful, though, if the person had contacts across the country, not just in L.A.

Glotzer and his firm have also decided to take on one more artist. They've begun listening to tapes and are actively looking for someone new to add to their roster. Glotzer confided that "Pictures, resumes ... all that's bullshit." He said the music (tapes) were all he was interested in, and feels that a band can be marketed no matter what they look like if their music is good. Glotzer also places heavy value on an artist's sincerity and, believe it or not, morality, and above all, his or her intelligence. This comes out in Glotzer's relationship with Zappa.

"There are many times when he (Zappa) suggests something he wants to do which I think is outlandish or crazy or it doesn't make sense, but when I consider it for awhile, it makes sense. The guy is really intelligent and he has sense of things – a great perception. There are other times when he'll want to do something which I this is not really beneficial to his career and he'll stop and think about it for a minute and say, "You know, you're right," and start coming around to my way of thinking about something. I think we have that balance between us."

Inquiries concerning the position of songplugger and tapes by artists and/or writers should be directed to Bennett Glotzer, P.O. Box 338, L.A. Ca 90069