Sunday 18 March 2018

All is quiet – U2 keep schtum following shock departure of manager

Paul McGuinness with his wife Kathy Gilfillan, Bono and Ali Hewson.
Paul McGuinness with his wife Kathy Gilfillan, Bono and Ali Hewson.


WHY the deafening silence? U2 have yet to pay public tribute to Paul McGuinness after he called time on 35 years as their manager.

Although the announcement was heralded as a seminal moment in rock history by some, the news failed to even register on the band's official news stream.

U2's official website, Twitter page and Facebook remained silent, as acknowledgments from music industry figures around the world flooded in.

Last night, when asked why U2 had not released a statement at such a momentous moment in their rock 'n' roll timeline, the band's PR company did not respond.

A music industry source told the Sunday Independent: "The silence is a bit strange. Especially when it involves four men who usually have a witty word or observation for every occasion.

But a separate industry source pointed out that the core of every decision made by the band was: "What's best for the business?"

"Whatever the reason is for the silence, you can be sure it's down to what is in the best interests of the band and the U2 machine. Maybe, as far as they are concerned it's 'business as usual' and the tributes will come in time."

McGuinness has sold Principle Management for a reported $30m (€22m) and handed over U2's day-to-day management to Madonna's manager, Guy Oseary.

In a statement to The New York Times, Mr McGuinness, 62, said: "It could be seen as slightly poor etiquette for a manager to consider retiring before his artist has split, quit or died, but U2 have never subscribed to the rock 'n' roll code of conduct." He went on: "As I approach the musically relevant age of 64, I have resolved to take a less hands-on role as the band embark on the next cycle of their extraordinary career."

Speaking to The Sunday Independent, Harry Crosby, a long-time friend of McGuinness and the band, said: "His unshakeable integrity in an industry that is full of chancers and fantasists was a great asset to the band."

Gay Byrne said: "He was with them from the word go. He recognised their potential and he made some very shrewd decisions with everything from marketing to royalties and how to deal with the many dragons and piranhas that are in this business. He served them very well and I am sorry to see him go."

Broadcaster Dave Fanning, a close friend of the group, described McGuinness as "the living template of how to master the music industry".

He added: "Paul was never the guy in the studio, overseeing things like a producer; he went out and did the business of making U2 as big as they are. He went to London and used it as a stepping stone to get them to America and further.

"All of the bands I talk to see Paul as the template, the real man who did it all and made it. He did an incredible job with U2."

The Dublin man's management career took off when Hot Press journalist Bill Graham persuaded him to become U2's manager after a Dublin gig on May 25, 1978. His day job was as a film technician, and his only experience of management had been with the obscure Irish folk-rock band Spud.

"There is no fairness, and there's no justice, and bands tend to get the managers they deserve," he explained to RTE when asked what he brought to a job he seemed unqualified for. "The basic rule is survival of the fittest."

With so many accolades and garlands thrown at the feet of the music impresario last week, fans are still waiting for the four men he helped become the greatest rock band in the world to have the definitive say.

Sunday Independent

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