Jake Gold figures he’s the happiest band manager in the land.
Thirty-four years after signing a ragamuffin band, based on listening to a demo tape and seeing them at one gig opening for a Rolling Stones clone band, Gold helped to build The Tragically Hip into what arguably became Canada’s most successful home-grown recording and touring ensemble. But then the romance went cold and he and The Hip had a parting of the ways.
Well, that all changed late last week.
The Hip, sidelined since October 2017 with the death of Gord Downie, its charismatic frontman and chief lyricist, put out the word that they were in the market for a new manager to handle its sizeable and highly profitable IP assets. And Jake Gold was front of the line to place his hat in the ring.
After a lengthy Zoom conference call on June 5 with band members and the estate, papers were signed this past Monday (the 8th) and, Jake was on the phone Tuesday trumpeting the news to fellow Canadian managers and media (and, no doubt, longtime ally Bob Lefsetz).
“What’s really interesting is I that I managed them from 1986 to 2003 ––that’s seventeen years, followed by a 17-year separation," he waxes over the phone.
"I find it funny that it was 17 years on, and 17 off. Add the number together, seven plus one, and you get eight. Eight is like the most powerful number in numerology for me. I checked. I looked it up. It sounds crazy, but what can I say. You see, eight is my number. I was born on April 4. That’s the 4th of the 4th. When I signed the deal, I called all my friends who are managers and they all said, ‘Wow, like finally, some good news (as they sit idle with acts that are unable to tour).'"
Gold’s obvious elation is contagious. He’s a natural-born promoter and loves a challenge. For the past several days, he has been combing through stacks of agreements, contracts and proposals relating to the band. They have a lot of IP assets, but without Gord Downie there will be no more live appearances, and no new album projects, so it is mining a rich legacy that includes footage, unreleased recordings, song publishing, merch, sync rights and brand endorsements.
In total it is estimated The Tragically Hip has sold somewhere in the region of 10 million albums at home, including three certified Diamond Award-winners recognizing 1M copies apiece: Up To Here, Road Apples, and Fully Completely.
Apart from the obvious income earners from recordings, streams, airplay, syncs, and ringtones, there are the band’s branded liquors (Ahead By A Century Chardonnay, and the Fully Completely Gand Reserve Red) that remain big money makers, its IP image bank and its partnership in a fast-growing medical and recreational marijuana company.
“So, what are we going to be doing?,” Gold asks and answers without pause: “It’s like the Beatles. You know they are never going to be together again, but their amazing back catalogue and IP continue to grow in value."
For the record, the Hip’s last performance was from the K-Rock Centre in hometown Kingston on August 20, 2016, and broadcast nationwide live on CBC’s television, radio and digital platforms. That show was spun off into a doc, a DVD and, for a moment in time, the final farewell of the 15-show farewell Man Machine Poem tour was the talking point from coast to coast to coast. The band was tight, accomplished, its players emulated and revered––but it was Downie, crowned a poet laureate, whose word imagery, deeply held convictions about a just society and selflessness in the face of finality that rang true with audiences young and old everywhere.
Gold never lost his enthusiasm for the band and attended four of the Hip's farewell shows. It was as if he courting them from a distance without any hope of winning them back. Who could have guessed?
Taking on a band that has no singer and no plans to tour or record is a challenge and the kind of one that Jake Gold relishes. Whatever moves he makes, he will need to consider the legacy, the assets and the needs of the Downie family trust and the remaining band members––Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois, Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker. It's going to take some imagination, but he didn't put his hat in the ring to stand idle and live in the past. That's just not who or what Jake is.
In the intervening years, Gold was a judge for six seasons on the tv show Canadian Idol and, over the years, has managed acts such as (fellow Idol judge) Sass Jordan, The Watchmen, David Gogo, Moe Berg, Big Wreck, and Adam Cohen. He has also been awarded Manager of the Year three times by the Canadian Music Industry.
Gold takes on the position as manager of The Tragically Hip from Bernie Breen and Patrick Sambrook who were with the band for 15 years. Sam Feldman briefly managed The Hip, for two years, after they broke from Gold’s boutique Management Trust stable.
Band members collectively issued a brief comment on the changeover that reads: “In the words of Peaches and Herb...’ We’re reunited and it feels so good’. We are all very happy to be back working with our original dance partner and architect––Jake Gold and The Management Trust.”
Patrick Downie, one of two brothers to Gord, offered this: “The Downie family is very happy to be reuniting with Jake. We see no better person to serve the legacy and future works of Gord Downie and of The Tragically Hip.
“We are truly excited for everyone, especially for the fans.”