Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Just Who Is Frank Dileo?

Michael, after having to deal with Don King,needed a manager to look after his interest and money. Motown had released an album called Farewell My Summer Love 1984, though the songs were a collection recorded more than ten years prior. The album sales were only 106,583 copies, far from the 33 million copies of Thriller, which was released just before Summer. Michael felt that Berry Gordy was trying to cash in on his fame, and he didn't like it. "It's not fair," he said. '"I need someone to stop things like that from happening."
Michael met with a number of managers, including Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, in hopes to find the right person. He was very careful about his choice, consulting with many in the industry about certain people. He would talk with his brothers, record executives, about who they may have heard about. Even Diana Ross, who had her own firm, offered to manage him.
Who Michael eventually ended up with, surprised many. Michael met with Frank Dileo, in August 1983, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, discussing Thriller. Michael asked Dileo, then Epic's head of promotion, if he would be interested in managing him. Dileo couldn't understand why Michael would want him for the position, but Michael felt the way Dileo networked himself through the industry could be a benefit. Michael felt Dileo was largely responsible for Thriller's success, and he was a great record promoter.
Frank "Tookie" Dileo, was at the time thirty-six. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, he was always a fighter. He had political aspirations, and dreamed of being mayor of Pittsburgh. He father, died during surgery, and didn't have health insurance, so Frank ended up working as a waiter at an Italian restaurant to help his family make ends meet. He started working in the record industry as a promoter in the Midwest. In the early seventies, he landed a job with RCA Records in New York, and at twenty-one, became their national director of promotions. He turned RCA's promotions department into the industry's finest. He distanced himself from the record industry in 1977, and for a couple of years found himself in and out of trouble, financially, and personally. He returned to the industry, and in 1979, became Epic's vice president of promotions. He was a take charge man at Epic. He was largely responsible for the success of such acts as Meat Loaf, Culture Cub, Cyndi Lauper, and REO Speedwagon, who gave him a eight-thousand dollar Rolex watch.
Dileo was invited to watch Michael record Thriller. He and Michael got along quite well. Like the old saying, opposites attract. Michael was shy and retiring, Frank was loud and boisterous; Michael like health food, Frank liked hoagies and Budweisers; Michael never smoked, and Frank was never without his cigars; Michael weighed about 120 pounds, and Frank weigh about twice that amount.
Michael liked the way Frank set goals and accomplished them. For example, Frank felt that Michael and the Pope should meet. Four months later, Michael and Pope John Paul II were staring at each other, face to face, at the Vatican. "I'd like to be like Frank,' Michael said. "He gets the job done."
When Michael met with Dileo, to ask him to manage him, it was to be understood that he would manage Michael exclusively, no one else.
"The decision to manage Michael Jackson was not an easy one to make," he said. "I had to answer three questions: One, did I have the energy to step out and handle someone like Michael? Two, did I have the fortitude to take the abuse I'd have to take from people who can't get to him? And three, did I want to be the bad guy?
Dileo answered yes to all three questions. "This is certainly the biggest venture I'll ever do in my life. That much I know for sure."
Thank you, J. Randy Taraborrelli. "Michael Jackson - The Magic and the Madness," pages 351-353.