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Nov-23-2012 16:37printcommentsVideo

'World's Biggest Music Promoter' Pete Bennett Dies

The most well-connected man in music leaves us; Pete Bennett was there for everything.

Pete Bennett
Pete Bennett R.I.P.

(NEW YORK) - Pete Bennett, who put 'The Rolling Stones' and 'The Who' on US stages for the first time in history; also promoting musical greats like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, has died in New York.

Pete Bennett

Information is still coming in, but since this story was initially published, we have learned the cause of death and the details regarding this are related below by Pete's close friend Teresa Reile.

Throughout his long career, Pete traveled with 'The Beatles' and worked with each after the breakup. He was called 'The Greatest Promoter in the World' by Billboard Magazine.

He discovered Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and negotiated the signing of Michael Jackson and the 'Jacksons' to Epic Records".

He was behind an endless array of the world's biggest names in music history that spanned multiple generations and strongly affected the lives of millions and millions of fans and listeners worldwide but particularly right here in the USA.

It was not just music either. Pete was a multifaceted entertainment promoter who could make things happen when nobody else could.

Teresa Reile is a friend who has known Pete for a number of years. She is a journalist and film producer in New York.

Teresa spoke to Pete just days ago and explained, "He went to the doctor the other day with numbness in arm and hand and they sent him home with a clean bill of health.

"He died of a heart attack and after he didn't answer his phone for a few days his son called the police; the police had to knock the door in and they found him."

She added, "I will miss his calls... and all the fun times we had."

Pete has promoted a number of famous models and actors including Brooke Shields, Cheryl Ladd, and Claudia Schiffer.

He is responsible for establishing Beverly Johnson as the first black model to be on the cover of Glamour and Vogue Magazines.

Also during his career, Pete discovered Kathy Ireland working in a pizza parlor; he connected her with people in New York and the next thing you know, she was on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Pete discovered other “greats” as well, including Steven Tyler of Aerosmith- whose humble beginning was as a carry-out boy for Pete’s local grocery store in Brooklyn, hoping for his own big break.

After one personal performance, Pete arranged for young Tyler's band to play in a club setting and they were immediately signed by one of the biggest agents in the business, as Aerosmith. The entire world knows where that has led.

Now Aerosmith, thanks to Pete Bennett, is one of the longest running bands on the American rock and roll landscape.

One person who knew Pete and worked closely with him on a television show about Pete's life is Paul Petock of Eugene, Oregon.

Paul relayed this comment to our newsroom today:

"Pete was in his 70s but would only admit to about 64. I am in shock- I was just finishing up the reedit of the show, it looks great. Got the message from Lisa his girl friend this morning.

"Pete was a one of a kind, the King of Rock promotions. No one will ever top his record of working with the biggest names in the entertainment Industry. He was the man behind the curtain for so many."

Pete Bennett helped skyrocket careers of superstars for decades as the personal Promotion Manager for the Rolling Stones, the Who and the Beatles, first as a group and then John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr individually, and he continued to bring new talent to the forefront, to the very end.

Special thanks to Paul Petock

He signed Michael Jackson to CBS Records in 1976, and maintained a particularly close and supportive relationship with the extremely popular singer and performer for his entire life.

Pete also worked with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Steven Tyler, Tony Bennett, Bob Hope, the Jacksons, Frank Sinatra, The Supremes, George Burns, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder (plus so many more).

His relationships with these entertainers that he directly promoted gave them their boost to stardom, or to super-stardom!

When I interviewed Pete in 2008, he told me the notorious story of an event in 1971 where he saved Eric Clapton’s life. In fact Pete was the person who "saved the day" time and time again.

Pete Bennett with the Rolling Stones

The afternoon of the Concert for Bangladesh, Eric Clapton was nowhere to be found.

Pete and Bob Dylan knocked on his hotel door over and over again but nobody came to the door. Pete insisted that the hotel manager open the door, and they found Clapton inside, unconscious, and most certainly “dead” from Heroin overdose.

A doctor in the area owed Pete a favor, he explained, and that doctor arrived in minutes and gave Clapton a life-saving shot.

In recalling the details, he says the doctor called for them to get an apple and an orange right away.

"I called room service and got the fruit, and when Clapton came to, he started sucking on the orange. That helped revive him," Pete said.

This is just one of so many incredible stories that Pete Bennett had to share with the world. Considering that he was extremely active in the business from the years when rock and roll was just starting to heat up, all the way into the new century, there probably is no individual who experienced or saw more, from crooners to Motown to the British Invasion and beyond, Pete was there for the glory and the epic successes and sometimes for the tragedies and losses.

His loss is huge and his significance in the world's modern music history could never be understated. Pete Bennett was a heartfelt, kind and generous person who recognized brilliance in others, he shall be sorely missed...

Bonnie and Pete during an interview in Portland. Photo: Paul Petock

From the Bonnie King article: Legendary Promoter Pete
Bennett Brings Rock Stars to Oregon: Up Close & Personal


Wikipedia page: Peter Bennett (music promoter)From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Past articles:

Legendary Promoter Pete Bennett Brings Rock Stars to Oregon: Up Close and Personal, by Bonnie King:

Pete Bennett Presents: An Evening of Classic British Rock and Roll with Denny Laine, by Bonnie King:

Bonnie with the statue by Gabriel Ponzanelli of
Pete Bennett, at the Elsinore Theatre
Salem, Oregon


Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Charlie Souza November 30, 2019 6:15 am (Pacific time)

Pete, such a sweet man, really helped me with my first and second albums, Live Your Dream and 9 Ball in the Corner Pocket! I met him in Florida at the Tropics 30th reunion concert and then he invited me to New York to meet with some record executives. As we walked the streets of the city together I'll never forget him telling me how he believed in my music! He got me a record deal in Europe on a Motorcycle Compilation album, sold a great number of my CDS in New York, and met with a few of those executives. I bought him a steak and the premier steakhouse on the east side and he signed a management contract there at the table! This was one of the most memorable times of my life as I was living my dream! Rest in Peace Dear Pete Bennett!

Anonymous October 13, 2019 5:27 am (Pacific time)

Hi my name is Sal M. And about a month before Pete Passed he wanted to work with my record label and promote my music and me and was gearing up to have me open someday for Lady Gaga and or have a duet with her or whatever it was he had big big plans for me this wasnobviousky backnin 20113. I feel cheated what a great man who did great things for people he seen talent in. FIP Peter.

Anonymous November 23, 2012 7:56 pm (Pacific time)

Thanks Bonnie, your story is great because you leave us with the good things, certainly his loss is a tragedy, but you will make me always remember Pete in a certain positive light.

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