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Even More Leadership Lessons from Rock and Roll

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in The Next Level

Last week,  I sent out one of my periodic newsletters which featured my recent blog post on leadership lessons from the Boss, Bruce Springsteen. That article prompted a note from Rich Beach, a director at IT services provider CGI and an alumnus of our Next Level Leadership™ group coaching program. In addition to being a smart and interesting guy, it turns out that Rich is also a great writer and quite the rock and roll aficionado. In his note, he shared with me one more leadership story about Springsteen and a lesson from the Beatles about getting the right people on the bus.

So, with his permission, and in his own words, here’s Rich Beach with two really cool leadership lessons from the history of rock and roll.  Thanks Rich!

Bruce1 “OK you hooked me in with your Springsteen theme. I’m not a huge fan, although I was back in the day (mid 70s) when the Boss was still hungry and touring college campuses like crazy. I read somewhere that in those early days Springsteen took his band to see a Detroit band called Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels – an act that was known for its legendary stage act. His point was to drill into his band that his vision was to be “just like those guys”. Another example of great leadership.

Another rock story I like to tell is about the Beatles’ drummer, Ringo. Lots of people like to say that Ringo was the “lucky Beatle” who found himself in the right place at the right time and got to ride the “fame train” with marginal talent. I beg to differ. The Beatles in their formative period were gigging constantly in Germany and Liverpool, and they rose to the top in a Liverpool music scene that was cluttered with hundreds of talented local bands. But when they hooked up with their manager Brian Epstein and their producer George Martin, they were instructed to fire their drummer and replace him with someone more talented. Ringo was at the time known to be the drummer on the Liverpool scene – he was a great drummer who was also serving as “front man” for one set a night in a band called “Rory and the Hurricanes” – so the Beatles went out and got the best. Within two months they were sitting on top of the world….with a markedly improved backbeat laid down by a seasoned pro with charisma and stage presence who fit in perfectly. Another great management decision!”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John O'Leary September 28, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Just found your blog! Yes, George Martin was only interested in the Beatles using another drummer for RECORDING purposes. (In fact he replaced Ringo with a studio drummer for their first single.) And Pete Best gets a bad rap. He wasn’t a bad drummer and there are some fascinating theories why the Beatles replaced him with Ringo. But details aside, there is MUCH that we can learn about business – and especially business TEAMS – from rock & roll bands, which I’ll be writing about in an upcoming books. Cheers.


Christine July 23, 2009 at 8:42 am

You quote Rich Beach as writing:

“But when they hooked up with their manager Brian Epstein and their producer George Martin, they were instructed to fire their drummer and replace him with someone more talented.”

??? Good grief, even the least-educated Beatles scholars know that the opposite was true: it was the Beatles who demanded that Brian Epstein fire Pete Best and hire Ringo ~ against Brian’s better judgment. However, the boys did know better in this case, and it all worked out for the best (except for Mr. Best, that is). ;)

DO YOUR HOMEWORK before committing someone’s quotes to print without qualifications!

I strongly suggest you read the fascinating bio of Brian Epstein, “The Man Who Made The Beatles” by Ray Coleman. There are many out there, but that’s the best one, besides the Debbie Geller book “The Brian Epstein Story.”



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