Death can be an excellent career move–financially, anyway. Just ask Elvis, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson–the of artists who’ve made more money dead than alive is extensive. But this sort of revenue doesn’t just happen. You need help from people like Jeff Jampol.
In 1989, Jeff Jampol, a former punk-band manager and label promotions man, found himself in a hospital, “crazy on heroin,” with doctors about to amputate his leg — nerves damaged by injections — when the anesthesiologist called for a crucial delay. “I would have needed a fatal level of opiates, because my tolerance was so high,” recalls the 57-year-old founder of West Hollywood-based Jampol Artist Management, whose eight full-time employees promote and manage the estates of such acts as The Doors, The Ramones, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Muddy Waters. “The doctor said, ‘Detox for seven to 10 days, then we’ll amputate.’ ” Miraculously, Jampol’s surgeon saw tissue growth soon after and opted for reconstructive surgery, thereby saving the leg.
Jampol cleaned up and, after four years, returned to the music business with renewed vigor. Through managing acts like Dimestore Hoods and Tal Bachman, he partnered with Danny Sugerman, The Doors’ longtime manager, and discovered a niche — “the pop-culture-legacy management business.” Jampol figured out how to avoid Elvis Presley-style cash-ins, instead focusing on projects like A Night With Janis Joplin, the musical that, after 144 Broadway shows, sold out a 70-city tour; a recent three-disc, 40th-anniversary reissue of The Ramones’ first album and a Grammy Museum exhibit in September called Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk; and a Doors iTunes digital box set that is part of a long-term reissue and merchandise campaign, boosting yearly sales over time from 300,000 to 1.5 million albums. “What connected Jim Morrison to a kid in 1967 will still connect him to a kid in 2016,” says Jampol. “It’s about carrying that magic forward.”