The 20 most powerful celebrity makers of 2008

The music PR legend Barbara Charone and others reveal their secrets

The music PR legend Barbara Charone was on the cover of the Observer Magazine of 22 June 2008 along with her business partner Moira Bellas and their clients Mark Ronson and Rufus Wainwright, as part of its list of the ‘20 most powerful celebrity makers’.

That year alone we credited Charone with the return of Madonna and her album Hard Candy, the revival of Neil Diamond, the launch of Duffy and the elevation of Ronson from ‘expat gadabout DJ into Brit-winning platinum-selling artist’.

Charone was born in Chicago, but moved to London where she was a music journalist at NME, Sounds and Rolling Stone, before moving into PR at Warner Brothers Records. She wrote the authorised biography of Keith Richards in 1979 and this week she publishes her own memoir of half a decade in the music business.

What was her secret, we asked. ‘It’s essential you love music and be knowledgable about it. And you have to love and be knowledgable about newspapers and magazines… enthusiasm is everything and phoneyness is nothing.’

At No 12 on the list, ‘the indie kings of comedy’ Steve Coogan and Henry Normal were riding high, producing a raft of television programmes. With their company Baby Cow, they vowed only to make programmes that they’d watch themselves and back then it was Gavin & Stacy, The Mighty Boosh, Nighty Night and Saxondale. ‘A Baby Cow production is not only funny, but also edgy, experimental and clever,’ we said. At No 1, of course, was artist manager Simon Fuller of Spice Girls and Pop Idol infamy, not that he personally sought the limelight. ‘There is no upside to fame I can think of,’ he said. ‘It’s so weird… in the modern world, celebrity is even afforded to business people. To Simon Cowell, for chrissakes!’


Chris Hall

The GuardianTramp

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