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Five Lessons From Music's Most Feared Manager, Led Zeppelin's Peter Grant

From left, manager Peter Grant with Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and bass guitarist John Paul Jones at Knebworth House.
From left, manager Peter Grant with Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and bass guitarist John Paul Jones at Knebworth House.Photograph by Ian Cook/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

British music industry school Bristol Institute of Modern Music (BIMM) is launching a three-year music management course and offering a £16,000 ($25,593) scholarship named after the late Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant. Grant—who also managed the likes of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Jimmy Page’s earlier band, the Yardbirds—cut unprecedented bargains with record companies and tour promoters that altered the industry landscape and helped win musicians a bigger share of the profits. And his occasional use of violence to get his way made him one of the most feared businessmen in rock ‘n’ roll.

After drummer John Bonham’s death in 1980, Led Zeppelin disbanded and Grant effectively retired. He suffered from years of drug abuse and diabetes and died of a heart attack at age 60 in 1995. But Grant still remains one of the best-known band managers out there, a hard-rock Brian Epstein. “We often talk about turning points in rock music—Elvis, the Beatles, and the like—but the music business itself had similar sorts of turning points, similar awakenings, and in this area Peter Grant was a superstar of management,” says Cliff Jones, the former frontman of Britpop band Gay Dad who’s now the head of music business at BIMM. “We’ve decided to honor him and to work with his estate on this award so that others can gain the knowledge and professionalism that he learned over his career.” Here are five lessons the music industry could learn from Peter Grant.