An Interview with Rush’s Manager, Ray Danniels

This is courtesy of Larry LeBlanc.

This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Ray Danniels, CEO/president, Standing Room Only Management, and the Anthem Entertainment Group. 

Four decades managing Canadian power trio Rush, as well as helming a label and management powerhouse, and being a central figure in the music industry, it’s Ray Danniels’ time to come in from the shadows. 

As the recipient of the 2015 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award that recognizes individuals who have made an impact on the Canadian music industry, Danniels will be honored at the 2015 Juno Gala Dinner and Awards on March 14th (2015) in Hamilton, Ontario. 

The son of a die-casting executive, Danniels was running a small, non-union Toronto-based booking agency at the age of 16 when he met Rush at a youth drop-in center in the basement of a local Anglican church in the late ‘60s. 

In 1973, Danniels teamed up with booker/musician Vic Wilson, then president of the Concept 376 agency, to form Standing Room Production to manage Rush. Frustrated by the band’s failure to attract a recording deal, Danniels sold his booking agency, Music Shoppe International, and with Wilson set up Moon Records. 

The band’s eponymous debut album came out in Canada in March 1974 on Moon, with Canadian distribution initially being handled by London Records of Canada in Montreal. 

Despite little radio airplay, and few reviews, the album soon sold 50,000 copies, mostly in Southern Ontario. After Donna Halper, PD at album rock WMMS Cleveland started playing the album track “Working Man,” 7,000 exported copies were sold in the Cleveland area. These sales prompted Chicago-based Mercury Records to sign the band, and back a tour of America. 

With its tremendously passionate concept work “2112” in 1976, Rush’s popularity soared internationally. The band’s catalog now consists of over 20 studio albums, most of which remain available. 

Danniels and Wilson (who left SRO/Anthem in 1980) established Anthem Records and Anthem Entertainment in 1977 as vehicles to protect Rush’s independence and to give themselves the flexibility to record and publish acts on their own. 

In addition to Rush, Anthem has released recordings by Max Webster, Ian Thomas, Kim Mitchell, Coney Hatch, Gowan, Moe Koffman, B.B. Gabor, Molly Johnson, Steven Page, the Tea Party, Big Wreck, and Brody Dalle as well as such soundtrack projects by the fictional brothers Bob & Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, and “The Trailer Park Boys.” 

Read the whole interview here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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