Remembering Rock Music Tour Manager Daniel Harrison

Music journalist Ashley Kahn pays tribute to concert producer and tour manager Daniel Harrison, who was murdered in New York last weekend. He worked with some of the biggest names in the music business.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Now a remembrance of a man known for his behind-the-scenes role in the music industry. Daniel Harrison worked with Boz Scaggs, Billy Joel, Paul Simon and other major artists as a concert producer and tour manager. Last Sunday in New York City, Daniel Harrison was killed. He was 57. Music journalist Ashley Kahn had this appreciation.

ASHLEY KAHN reporting:

In 1988, I was young, green and feeling my way through the music business.

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LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO: (Singing in foreign language)

KAHN: I was hired as tour manager for Ladysmith Black Mambazo when they were fresh from the breakout success of Paul Simon's "Graceland" album.

(Soundbite of music)

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO: (Singing in foreign language)

KAHN: Danny Harrison was working for Paul Simon, his office just next door. He became my mentor, or as they say in the music business, my rabbi, an Irish Catholic rabbi, blessed with a strong sense of the mischievous.

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LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO: (Singing in foreign language)

KAHN: Danny was a chubby charmer with a loud laugh who was always on the phone. At first, I found him loose and frivolous. We worked together and often traveled the world on tours that lasted three to four months and on simple one-nighters.

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KAHN: It was like boot camp for life, every night at 8 was show time, a deadline that could not be missed. I learned how to overcome a lost passport or a singer needing a root canal, when and how to get paid, what to prioritize, when to focus and when to let go.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man: (Singing) ...put those ideas in your head...

KAHN: Danny started in the music business with Boz Scaggs in the late '70s. Word was that he had actually burned the singer's trousers with an iron to avoid more menial tasks, and as a result, became Scaggs' tour manager. Danny was a hustler with more than a bit of carney in him.

(Soundbite of music)

KAHN: In the late '80s, Danny was at the top of his game. He had worked with Billy Joel and helped to coordinate the historic Simon & Garfunkel reunion in Central Park in 1981 and the Graceland concert in Zimbabwe in 1987.

(Soundbite of music)

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO: (Singing in foreign language)

KAHN: Through much of his career, Danny was a man given to excess. He was no saint and was not immune to the temptations of business. Yet, the bigger part of his nature, the part I'll remember, was an excess of youth and spirit. He could be generous to a fault not matter where one stood on the rock 'n' roll totem pole. Thanks, Danny, and goodbye.

(Soundbite of music)

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO: (Singing in foreign language)

MONTAGNE: Ashley Kahn is author of "Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece." Music manager Daniel Harrison was killed in New York City last weekend.

(Soundbite of music)

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO: (Singing in foreign language)

MONTAGNE: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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