Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Julie Grant was born in England. When she was fifteen years old she had as her manager, Eric Easton, the co-manager of an up and coming Rock 'n' Roll band known as The Rolling Stones. That association led to a recording contract with Pye Records. Her producer was none other than Tony Hatch, who just happened to produce Petula Clark and The Searchers. Julie Grant enjoyed a Top 20 hit record with a cover of The Drifters' "Up On The Roof". She appeared with the biggest stars of the day, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Searchers and The Yardbirds. And she also found herself on the top TV shows of the day, including Thank Your Lucky Stars, Top Of The Pops and Ready, Steady Go. After her Pye Records deal expired, Julie joined a Spanish group by the name of The Zaras. That group toured Europe and landed a long term contract with the Americana and Sahara Hotels. For the next six years Julie fronted the group as the female lead throughout the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. In 1975 she left that group and formed a new group with David Connelly, who would later become her husband and manager. With David, she toured extensively, playing all the popular resorts and casinos in the U.S. and the Caribbean. In 1994, Julie Grant retired from performing and became an agent. She books the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, as well as Foxwoods, many casinos in Atlantic City and also casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada. What a life Julie Grant has led! There is so much to talk about!
Q - Let's start off with a timely question. Everybody is talking about the economy. Have you seen a down turn in the number of gigs you can get for your acts?
A - Oh, absolutely. Our company, Julie Grant Music, David and I run it, our main clients are casinos. The budgets went to hell. If they get money and re-do a budget for this year or next year, it won't come back to us. Entertainment is the first to suffer. People don't spend the money to go anymore.
Q - I notice a trend in casinos. They're booking quite a few tribute acts, at least the New York State casinos.
A - So is everybody, but we're sort of over it. Yeah, they are booking a lot of tribute. I like to get the real groups. For instance, I'm planning to bring over The Manfreds and Manfred Mann and The Searchers again this year. (2010) Last year we couldn't bring over anybody 'cause we didn't have the budget. I hope we can this year. I try to book as many English acts as possible. Actually, I just had one in Connecticut. They're called Stringfever. They're from England. They come once a year. They're stunning. Take a look at their website, www.StringFeverUSA.com. Three brothers and a cousin. It's amazing music. I try to always bring my old pals over and we have a good time.
Q - Do you like being an agent?
A - I love it!
Q - More than performing?
A - I loved performing. I didn't like the rehearsals, but I loved being on the stage. I loved being onstage! Once I was there, it was great. I loved the traveling in those years, but I do love what I do now because all the venues that I work with appreciate my background and David's background (Note: David Connelly was The Carpenters' road manager for five years) 'cause they know we know what we're doing, from both ends. So, we take care of the artists very well and they don't have any nightmare phone calls at midnight saying "we have an issue" because Julie and David took care of it.
Q - As a child, you were studying opera. You sang with an orchestra. You probably didn't give much thought to being a Pop singer, did you?
A - I loved all the Pop music at the time. I was hoping maybe I could do the transition, which thank goodness I was able to. It's amazing that I got that opportunity and the luck to be heard by our accountant Julian Grant (who Julia got her stage name from. Julie was born Vivien Foreman) and then was turned on to Frankie Vaughan, whose manager ended up being my manager, Eric Easton.
Q - I was going to ask you about him.
A - Yeah. He found The Stones along with Andrew Loog Oldham.
Q - Eric Easton is kind of a mysterious figure in The Stones' story. I don't know if he was a hands-on manager.
A - Well, he was a different kind of a manager. He never handled anything like The Rolling Stones. He had me as a Pop singer. He had a lady who played piano who was very successful. I can't remember her name. Bert Weedon, a guitarist. He was an organist out of Blackpool (England), used to play The Tower, close to where I was born. He (Eric Easton) started his company that Brian Matthew, who is still to this day doing a radio show for BBC One, Saturday Club, they still play my records and those were the kind of acts he had. But he was very hands-on. He had a wonderful staff. They were lovely. Then Andrew came along and he thought he was a stable character, which he was. He wasn't a whacky-doodle guy like Andrew.
Q - Is Eric Easton still around?
A - No. He passed away. He passed away many, many years ago. I speak to his son, who is an agent outside of Tampa, Florida.
Q - You toured with The Beatles and The Stones?
A - More The Stones than The Beatles. I did a couple of shows with The Beatles. I was personal friends with them because my best friends were The Moody Blues. What happened was, with Eric becoming the manager of The Stones, they actually opened for me first 'cause I had my record, "Up On The Roof" at that time. They opened for me on a couple of shows even before "Up On The Roof", at the end of '62. Then we did a tour together. Quite a few one-offs. The big tour we did was in '63 for over a month with The Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley, Little Richard and myself. So, I did more stuff with The Stones because of having the same management.
Q - How did you get The Beatles gigs?
A - Eric, my manager must have done it. I never had anything to do with the bookings.
Q - Did you ever meet The Beatles' manager?
A - Oh, Brian I knew very well. I actually met The Beatles, this is a very cute story: I was doing a summer season in Blackpool at the South Pier and before that I had a few records at the time that were out. I did Thank Your Lucky Stars a lot, the TV program. One particular show, Gerry And The Pacemakers were on. It was their first appearance. Their brand new record. I think it was Brian Epstein's third group he'd signed. Billy J. Kramer was second. Well anyway, we became friends and I showed him where the commissary was. We kept in touch. He said "You've been so kind to me." I said "I heard you're gonna be in Blackpool." He said "Yes, actually on every other Sunday we're going to be appearing either at the ABC or one of the other theatres. A show, a Brian Epstein show. A NEMS show." I said "Well, I'm at the summer for three months at South Pier." He said "Well, I'd love you to be my guest at the show." On Sunday, my day off. I went to meet Gerry, who was on the bill with Billy J. Kramer, The Undertakers and The Beatles. That's how I first met them, right before "Love Me Do". "Love Me Do" came out and I used to see them all the time. Stood backstage with Paul's dad James and watched the shows. One particular time at the ABC Theatre, it was July 7th, I guess it's gotta be '63, I was backstage with Brian. I asked for some signed pictures and he gave me four individual pictures of the boys who just had their pictures done with their famous Beatle boots and that big fan chair they sat in. But these were out-takes and I have them to this day. Individually signed to me.
Q - Must be worth a small fortune.
A - I don't know. Unfortunately because two of them are passed, they're probably worth more if they're not around, which is a horrible thought. But anyway, that particular Sunday, the 7th, it was Ritchie's (Ringo Starr's) birthday. Mine was on the 12th of July and we celebrated. There was a cake and Brian gave me the pictures. I used to see 'em a lot and the following Sunday when they were there, I invited my Mum and Dad. Mummy was my chaperone. I was only 17. We rented like a house by the beach in Blackpool. So I invited them to come back and George said "Well, we'll come back later 'cause we've got to go back after the show to Liverpool to pick up my new car." So, him and John came back to our apartment very late at night and my Mum baked a chocolate cake and George taught me how to play "A Taste Of Honey" on the guitar. That was George's first time driving his brand new silver Jag(uar). I've got the actual doily that the chocolate cake was on. John loved chocolate cake. It was one of his favorite things. They signed the doily and I have that and that is the most amazing piece of memorabilia. They didn't think anybody knew who they were. They wrote on the top "The Beatles" and "Love From John. Love From George."
Q - How good of a manager do you think Brian Epstein was?
A - Well, he started off, he had a bloody little record section in his mother and father's furniture store, which was called Northern Music Store. He saw them and there was such a big, whacky situation surrounding The Silver Beatles at The Cavern that I think he saw something amazing there. They liked him. He was a very elegant gentleman. I think he was good for them. He hired wonderful people to do their press. Tony Barrow is still a dear friend of mine. I liked Brian a lot.
Q - As you would go around performing with these groups, you actually liked their music, didn't you? You really liked the music of The Stones, didn't you?
A - I loved The Stones and The Beatles. To this day I still do. I have all the records.
Q - When you heard this music...
A - It was raw music.
Q - Did you realize just how special it was?
A - You knew. You just had a feeling that it was gonna happen. There was no way it wasn't.
Q - Some singers who were on tour with The Beatles in the early 1960s did not see what was ahead.
A - Because they weren't perfect players. But you know what? If you listen to a lot of groups from that era, I left in '67, in the five years from '62 to '67, if you listen to the records and you hear some of the bloody guitar solos, it would make you throw up. It's horrible. But in those years we did one take, because they didn't want to spend money in the studio. They wanted to get as many in the can. We can't say that everything was perfect. To me they were because I loved that rawness, especially about The Stones.
Q - So, besides doing bookings, what else occupies your time?
A - David, being a record producer, he produced the only 'live' album by me, recorded in Springfield, Virginia in 1978. We're taking off the tracks and putting them on CD to be sold on the website www.JulieGrantMusic.com. It'll be the first record ever released by me recorded 'live', my show. So that's coming out and it's called "Don't Take Me For Granted".
Q - Hey, I like that title!
A - Yeah, and David's company is called Granite Records. (laughs) But it's a fabulous album. The album is really, really, really good. A lot of the stuff on the album is stuff nobody's heard me sing before, unless you've seen my shows. I do an up tempo version of "Send In The Clowns". I do a Barbra Streisand medley, "A Star Is Born" medley. I also help with the two producers of Pollstar Awards Show. I'm what they call a celebrity coordinator. It was just my 7th year. I round up celebrities to be presenters at the award show. I do that every year for fun. Not a paid job. I love it.