"The days are over when a single local independent promoter will dominate the local scene," says longtime promoter Harlan Schiffman (Fineline Entertainment). Schiffman reflects on the life of Jim Pagni, San Diego's first major rock promoter, who died on June 3, following a stroke. He was 62.
"Jim helped broker the sale of the Casbah [to Tim Mays and partners]," says Schiffman. "It had been a lesbian club, and before that it was a B&D [bondage and discipline] bar."
Only a handful of individuals have dominated the local rock scene. Pagni was the first. In the late '60s and early '70s, he brought Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, and the Moody Blues to town. Marc Berman became the next local rock-concert kingfish, hosting Cheap Trick, Fleetwood Mac, and Def Leppard. College promoters Mike Fahn (of SDSU) and Bill Silva (of UCSD) formed Fahn & Silva and supplanted Berman as the leading local promoter by hooking up with new-wave artists such as Blondie and the Police.
"Berman missed the trend," says Schiffman. "He was into classic rock."
After Fahn and Silva split, Silva emerged as the dominant promoter. The era of the individual promoter ended in San Diego when Silva sold his Bill Silva Presents to Universal Concerts in 1997. House of Blues Concerts later acquired Universal. With the exception of a few cities like Chicago and Washington D.C., Schiffman says the concert industry is controlled by major corporations such as HoB Concerts and Clear Channel Entertainment.
"It's a real estate game," says Schiffman. "Whoever controls the venues controls the game."