Producer and music business entrepreneur Gerry Bron died this week aged 79.
The founder and co-owner of Bronze Records, he was closely involved in the late ’70s/early ’80s with the recording careers of Uriah Heep, Juicy Lucy, Richard Barnes and Colosseum, Sally Oldfield, Motörhead, The Damned, Girlschool and Hawkwind. He also ran London’s Roundhouse Recording Studios in its heyday and later moved into producer/studio management.
Bron was brought up in a family steeped in the music industry. His father’s company, Bron’s Orchestral Service, was claimed to be the largest supplier of sheet music in the UK. Gerry Bron joined the company at 16 to assist his father when Bron senior’s health started to fail. “I suspect I may have left school at 16 anyway,” Bron commented in an interview with Billboard.
Bron reportedly gave Uriah Heep their name and managed their affairs for years. He was also behind the boards for their 1970 debut disc, Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble, and continued to produce their records through 1980′s Conquest.
In a 2004 interview, Bron said, “My feeling is that by being a manager and a producer you get better results, because part of production – if it’s good production – is management. Actually, they ought to go together, and I’ve never worked any other way.”
He added, “I naturally try, when I’m in a studio as a producer, to make people happy and enjoy what they’re doing, so it probably does influence the music… I think you have to see the funny side of whatever it is you do, and my sense of humour has that influence.”
Bronze Records, run originally by Bron and his first wife Lillian – one of the industry’s more colourful characters – gained a reputation for hedonistic promotions. The label had its own associated airline and would fly music industry hacks and radio promo people round Europe to check out Bronze acts. There would later be analogies between Uriah Heep and the ‘rockumentary’ movie This is Spinal Tap. Uriah Heep in Paris, Manfred Mann in Frankfurt – no problem, come to Luton and climb aboard. Sadly, the party ended when the 1980’s recession kicked in and Bron’s aviation business went to the wall.
Grammy award-winning engineer Alan Branch worked with Bron at Roundhouse Studios. “Gerry was a one-off, a unique character,” says Branch. “Roundhouse was one of the classic studios of its time- shag pile carpets up the wall and everything. And it worked. Gerry was a business man as much as a producer and had his ups and downs, but I found him a good boss. He gave me my break into the business for which I remain eternally grateful.”
Producer/engineer Paul Borg comments, “Gerry played a significant role in my career for many years, managing my industry affairs, and offering support and guidance with more personal matters. I still have the letter Gerry sent to me in 1984 confirming my full-time position at Roundhouse Studios. He went on to manage me professionally from 1988 through into the mid-1990s. He was a strong and influential figure within the music industry, and those that knew him personally will have been touched by his warmth and love for his family.”