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Nov-23-2012 16:37printcommentsVideo

'World's Biggest Music Promoter' Pete Bennett Dies

The most well connected man in music leaves us; Pete Bennett was there for everything.

Pete Bennett
Pete Bennett R.I.P.

(NEW YORK) - Pete Bennett, who put 'The Rolling Stones' and 'The Who' on US stages for the first time in history; also promoting musical greats like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, has died in New York.

Pete Bennett

Information is still coming in, but since this story was initially published, we have learned the cause of death and the details regarding this are related below by Pete's close friend Teresa Reile.

Throughout his long career, Pete traveled with 'The Beatles' and worked with each after the breakup. He was called 'The Greatest Promoter in the World' by Billboard Magazine.

He discovered Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and negotiated the signing of Michael Jackson and the 'Jacksons' to Epic Records".

He was behind an endless array of the world's biggest names in music history that spanned multiple generations and strongly affected the lives of millions and millions of fans and listeners worldwide but particularly right here in the USA.

It was not just music either. Pete was a multifaceted entertainment promoter who could make things happen when nobody else could.

    A friend who has known Pete very well for a number of years, is Teresa Reile, a journalist and film producer in New York.

    Teresa spoke to Pete just days ago and explained:

    "He went to the doctor the other day with numbness in arm and hand and they sent him home with a clean bill of health."

    He died of a heart attack and after he didn't answer his phone for a few days his son called the police; the police had to knock the door in and they found him.

    Referring to the accompanying image, Teresa said, "... he wanted me to help him put up that photo that he has as his profile pic that night when he called. I loved him."

    We loved him too, and that love never goes away.

    She added, "That pic was taken at the Beatles Celebration in Toronto. Pete and i went up there together. I will miss his calls... and all the fun times we had."

Pete has promoted a number of famous models and actors including Brooke Shields, Cheryl Ladd, and Claudia Schiffer.

He is responsible for establishing Beverly Johnson as the first black model to be on the cover of Glamour and Vogue Magazines.

Also during his career, Pete discovered Kathy Ireland working in a pizza parlor; he connected her with people in New York and the next thing you know, she was on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

As referenced earlier, Pete discovered other “greats” as well, including Steven Tyler of Aerosmith- whose humble beginning was as a carry-out boy for Pete’s local grocery store in Brooklyn, hoping for his own big break.

Tim King's interview with Pete Bennett after the death of Michael Jackson

After one personal performance, Pete arranged for young Tyler's band to play in a club setting and they were immediately signed by one of the biggest agents in the business, as Aerosmith. The entire world knows where that has led. Now Aerosmith, thanks to Pete Bennett, is one of the longest running bands on the American rock and roll landscape.

One person who knew Pete and worked closely with him on a television show about Pete's life is Paul Petock of Eugene, Oregon.

Paul relayed this comment to our newsroom today:

    "Pete was in his 70s but would only admit to about 64. I am in shock- I was just finishing up the reedit of the show, it looks great. Got the message from Lisa his girl friend this morning. Pete was a one of a kind, the King of Rock promotions. No one will ever top his record of working with the biggest names in the entertainment Industry . He was the man behind the curtain for so many."

Pete Bennett helped skyrocket careers of superstars for decades as the personal Promotion Manager for the Rolling Stones, the Who and the Beatles, first as a group and then John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr individually, and he continues to bring new talent to the forefront.

Special thanks to Paul Petock

He signed Michael Jackson to CBS Records in 1976, and maintained a particularly close and supportive relationship with the extremely popular singer and performer for his entire life.

Pete also worked with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Steven Tyler, Tony Bennett, Bob Hope, the Jacksons, Frank Sinatra, the Supremes, George Burns, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder.

His relationships with these entertainers that he has directly supported have in so many cases promoted these individuals and groups to stardom, or to super-stardom.

Pete Bennett told me the notorious story of an event in 1971 where he saved Eric Clapton’s life. In fact Pete was the person who saved the day time and time again.

Pete Bennett with the Rolling Stones

The afternoon of the Concert for Bangladesh, Eric Clapton was nowhere to be found.

Pete and Bob Dylan knocked on his hotel door over and over again but nobody came to the door. Pete insisted that the hotel manager open the door, and they found Clapton inside, unconscious, and most certainly “dead” from Heroin overdose.

A doctor in the area owed Pete a favor, he explained, and that doctor arrived in minutes and gave Clapton a life-saving shot.

In recalling the details, he says the doctor called for them to get an apple and an orange right away. "I called room service and got the fruit, and when Clapton came to, he started sucking on the orange. That helped revive him," Pete said.

This is just one of so many incredible stories that Pete Bennett had to share with the world. Considering that he was extremely active in the business from the years when rock and roll was just starting to heat up, all the way into the new century, there probably is no individual who experienced or saw more, from crooners to Motown to the British Invasion and beyond, Pete was there for the glory and the epic successes and sometimes for the tragedies and losses.

His loss is huge and his significance in the world's modern music history could never be understated. Pete Bennett was a heartfelt, kind and generous person who recognized brilliance in others, he shall be sorely missed...

Bonnie and Pete during an interview in Portland. Photo: Paul Petock

From the Bonnie King article: Legendary Promoter Pete
Bennett Brings Rock Stars to Oregon: Up Close & Personal


Wikipedia page: Peter Bennett (music promoter)From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Past articles:

Legendary Promoter Pete Bennett Brings Rock Stars to Oregon: Up Close and Personal, by Bonnie King:

Pete Bennett Presents: An Evening of Classic British Rock and Roll with Denny Laine, by Bonnie King:

Longtime Friend Pete Bennett Bids Farewell to Michael Jackson, King of Pop, by Tim King


Bonnie with the statue of
Pete Bennett, at the Elsinore
Theatre in Salem, Oregon

Bonnie King has been with since August '04; only months after its initial launch, when she became Publisher.

Throughout her career in media, Bonnie has served in a number of positions in the broadcast industry; TV Production Manager at KVWB (Las Vegas WB); Producer/Director for the TV series "Hot Wheels in Las Vegas"; TV Promotion Director for KYMA (NBC), and KFBT (Ind.), Asst. Marketing Director (SUPERSHOPPER MAGAZINE), Director/Co-Host (Coast Entertainment Show), Radio Promotion Director (KBCH/KCRF), and Newspapers In Education/Circulation Sales Manager for the Statesman Journal newspaper, a daily Gannett publication in Oregon's capitol city.

Because of her vast and wide ranging experience, Bonnie has a depth of understanding that reaches further than just behind the scenes, and that thoroughness is demonstrated in the perseverance to correctly see that presents each story with the interest and importance necessary to compel and captivate viewers.

View articles written by Bonnie King



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Anonymous November 23, 2012 7:56 pm (Pacific time)

Thanks Bonnie, your story is great because you leave us with the good things, certainly his loss is a tragedy, but you will make me always remember Pete in a certain positive light.

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