- 26 Sep 01
STEVE FARGNOLI, the artist manager who numbered SINÉAD O'CONNOR among his clients, lost his battle with cancer earlier this month. STEPHEN ROBINSON reports
Sinéad O’Connor has spoken to Hot Press following the death in Los Angeles of her manager Steve Fargnoli. He was 52. Mr Fargnoli was one of the music industry’s best known artist managers.
“I’d known Steve was suffering from cancer of the bladder since his diagnoses in Atlanta two years ago,” said Sinéad. “More recently the disease had spread to the liver and other vital organs and only a month ago he was given three months to live.
“Obviously in that two years my career has taken something of a back seat since we were hoping for a full recovery, but it wasn’t to be. I’m absolutely devastated by the loss since he was much more than a manager to me. I’d go so far as to say I looked upon him as a father and a great friend. He was always very aware of the particular needs of his artists.
"I remember we had a system that if I was being hassled at an industry do or whatever by someone, I’d mention the phrase ‘Princess Anne’ and he’d immediately come over to rescue me. It was about a month ago when he was in hospital that he called and told me things weren’t looking too good and I asked him how bad it was and he said ‘Well, I guess it’s Princess Anne’. About two weeks ago I flew to Los Angeles. I was able to visit with him before he went and maybe rescue him from some people he really didn’t want to see.”
Although perhaps most famous as Prince’s manager, Fargnoli had handled Sinéad’s affairs before she achieved superstar status in the US with her version of Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares 2U’.
“I actually met Steve at a Prince concert at the Camden Palace just after I’d released my first album. By the time I’d broken up with my then manager Fachtna O’Ceallaigh. I’d met Steve several times at social occasions since he was managing Karl Wallinger (The Waterboys, World Party) and he was happy to take me on. I learned a lot from Steve since he was a real veteran of the business. As a teenager his first ever job was at the Newport Jazz Festival when he was the kid who had to knock on Ella Fitzgerald’s dressing-room door and tell her it was time to go on.
“Of course he also managed Earth, Wind and Fire and Sly Stone; he was full of stories and anecdotes about those crazy days, the drugs, the touring. He told me once that there was a period where Steve would have to stand at the side of the stage to prevent Sly from nodding off over the piano during gigs! Yet he did always have respect for people whatever their situation. He was a very wise man. He used to say to me: ‘There’s a lot of different people in the world, Sinéad, that’s why there’s chocolate and vanilla’. I’m really devastated by the loss, he really was a father to me.”
During his four decades in the music business, Rhode Island-born Fargnoli also guided the careers of the J. Geils Band, The Emotions and nu-metal heroes Godsmack.
Sinéad is currently, as she succinctly puts it: “Demoing and fucking around” with Bristol’s finest Massive Attack.
“We’ve demoed a couple of tracks that have a trancey, trippy feel, including a track written by the Dublin singer-songwriter Damien Dempsey. I heard his They Don’t Teach This Shit In School album recently and I really loved it. I suggested one track, ‘It’s All Good’, which I think is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard, to Massive Attack and we’ve recorded a couple of mixes that I think are incredible – each one wilder than the other.
“We’re still not sure what’ll end up being included on the album but I think we’ve got something special. The second track is something I’ve written with Massive Attack which is probably best described as a prayer with music.”
Sinéad O’Connor’s business affairs will be dealt with through the offices of US industry lawyer Michael Guido. Anyone who wishes to contact Sinéad for work-related matters can call the following New York number – (1) (212) 759 2300.