Lou Blair, Bruce Allen, Loverboy
Lou Blair, Bruce Allen, Loverboy

RIP: Lou Blair, The Man Who Put The Love In Loverboy

Lou Blair, best known as the manager who nurtured Loverboy to global success, died in Vancouver over the weekend. The cause and his age at the time of writing are unknown.

The burly, polite former night club owner also managed other Canadian acts over the years including Alfie Zappacosta and Jim Foster.

Members of Loverboy have posted a message online saying Lou was instrumental in getting the band together and sharing their thoughts about him.

With a heavy heart we say goodbye to Lou Blair, a great friend and mentor. He was our manager for many years, and his never diminishing support, always pushing us to reach further in our music, will never be forgotten.

Lou was a Big Man with an even BIGGER Heart!

We will always remember him and his passion for music from the beginning of Loverboy, especially  in those early days as we rehearsed, wrote and recorded all our early songs, to the many great world wide tours we were on from 1979 through 1989 – Japan, ​​Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia, Great Britain, Canada and the United States.

Lou was instrumental in getting us together and then taking our demoes to Bruce Allen. He was always so involved with our record company (in those days CBS worldwide), taking them to task, making “damn sure” they were promoting Loverboy to the best of their abilities.

Lou Blair and Bruce Allen were an improbable, unstoppable, management team that took no prisoners in an unruly music business on the band’s behalf that solidified the group’s success for decades to come.

Lou will be missed by so many people in and out of the music business.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.


And from a Backstage Profile about Lou Blair, reprinted from the Loverboy Fan Club News and first published in Spring 1985

The 6' 5" Lou Blair is a friendly giant and he's managed Loverboy since they were a twinkle in Paul Dean's eye. For that matter, it was in Lou's infamous warehouse back in '79 that the band was born. But they go back a lot farther than that. He's known Paul for 17 years.

They met at a club called Oil Can Harry's in Vancouver. Lou worked the door and Paul was in the bar band. Over the next year or so, they became friends and in 1969 when Paul was putting together his band, "The Fox," he asked Lou to be their manager.

"We spent 2 1/2 years on the road together and got pretty close." recalls Lou. "I lived with the band, led the same lifestyle and paid the same dues."

Eventually says Lou, they started going in a direction that didn't hold his interest, so he packed it in and went back to managing a nightclub. Opportunity knocked and he left the club scene to work for WEA, then Capital Records in Calgary, Alberta. He moved up quickly to Western Canadian Director, but he longed to be back on the nightclub scene. He left to open one of the most successful spots in Calgary's history, the Refinery.

Paul and Lou kept in touch, even when Paul was in Toronto with his band Scrubbaloe Caine. Back in Alberta the following year, he became a regular at Lou's club.

"We'd talk about his new band, Streetheart," smiles Lou. "I'd tell him what I thought and he'd talk about some band things that concerned him. On the whole he was pretty happy and up."

"I remember him coming to the club with his sister and some friends the night before he was supposed to go on the road for a big tour. He was going to get a gold album backstage at the first concert and he was really excited. We gave him a sendoff party."

"Two days later, I got a phone call from this very quiet voice and it was Paul. He said he was still in town and I asked if he was meeting the band later or something. He said he had a falling out with the lead singer and manager and they fired him."

"You could tell by his voice he wasn't feeling that great and needed somebody to talk to, so I said I'll come over and pick you up'. For the next month and a half, we drove around Calgary getting philosophical and talking about what he was going to do."

Paul's first thought of putting together a band was squashed by Lou's better judgement: "We're not buying sound systems, lighting systems, old school buses or getting into communal living in burnt out homes," he insisted. "We're not going to get into that overhead or that lifestyle."

Instead he set Paul up in a corner of a warehouse behind the Refinery and went to work sorting his Streetheart business entanglements. Also using the warehouse was a band Lou co-managed, Fosterchild. They were busy rehearsing a new keyboard player Lou had hired--Doug Johnson.

Paul spent his time writing songs and working on arrangements, convinced by Lou to gear towards recording an album. Lou also convinced Paul to let the more commercial elements of his writing to come out.

Explains Lou: "He was more into cranking guitars and feedback then. He did everything he could to squelch anything pop--popular--about his writing, and took it too far. That's what we worked on."

With the exception of a few weeks playing bass in a duo with his friend Craig Blair (no relation to Lou) ' to get it out of his system', Paul settled down to work on his tunes. On Lou's orders, he wouldn't play live again until Loverboy's debut.

The original concept for the Paul Dean band did not call for a lead singer: "He was burnt out with lead singers," laughs Lou. "He said he didn't want to know about another lead singer for the rest of his life!! Then Reno shows up and Paul phones and says 'I've changed my mind'!".

Lou had known Mike from when he played with a couple of Calgary bands. The singer's family lived in Penticton, and he hung around Calgary a lot in those days. When he left Toronto after his stint with the band Moxy, he returned to that city.

Paul, meanwhile, had already started to jam with Doug Johnson who was losing interest in Fosterchild. Lou's own interest was flagging in the wake of arguments regarding the band's direction. His involvement eventually petered out as he became more involved with Loverboy.

"At that time," recalls Lou, "Paul and I were already rolling. In our minds, the name of the band was LOVERBOY, we had songs we were were working on and when Mike cam along, he slotted right into what Paul was writing. All of a sudden Turn Me Loose was written, Always on My Mind and others. Mike became an official partner. The band began to take shape."

Lou wanted to give them every possible chance to be successful. "My job," he emphasizes, "has always been--and always will be--to make sure that Paul Dean and LOVERBOY are surrounded by the best people possible. Some guys will go for 100% of nothing rather than a percentage of something successful. They're unnerved by sharing and their ego is challenged by the thought that they may not have the ability on their own."

"I've known Bruce (co-manager Bruce Allen) as long as I've known Paul and I knew he could do well by the band in areas I didn't have his kind of expertise in--things like scoring tours and motivating record companies. Bruce had already been through all that with Bachman Turner Overdrive and Prism. Although I had already signed the band to a management contract, I split my share with Bruce because I knew he could fill in a lot of holes. And he did."

Lou's own company is Lou Blair Management housed across the hall from Bruce Allen Talent. The majority of his time is devoted to Loverboy but he also handles the business for Toronto's Zappacosta and ex-Fosterchild lead singer, Jim Foster.

He's still been able to do more than dabble in his first love. Along with Bruce and several other partners, he's opened two of Vancouver's most successful nightclubs--Club Soda and the swank Richard's on Richards. He's taken more than a passing interest in house projects and spends several nights a week overseeing the full houses. The amicable Lou is a perfect host.

Lou was born September 27th in Vancouver. He likes racquetball, weightlifting, swimming (water polo) and barbeques. He dislikes large parties and yappy people. If he gets any off time, he likes to spend it cruising in a car or a boat (while listening to the many demo tapes he receives) or playing computer games.

 

- Pictured above: Lou Blair (centre with bow tie) with longtime partner Bruce Allen (second from the left) and members of Loverboy, circa late 1982.

 

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