Questlove continues to invite amazing guests for his Pandora radio show “Questlove Supreme.” For this week’s episode, Questo’s guest is Alan Leeds, former tour manager and confidant for numerous legendary artists; such as Prince, James Brown, D’Angelo, Chris Rock and many others.
The 69-year-old music industry vet divulged several stories about James Brown who he worked with very closely during his “pre-and post-mustache” era.
Leeds discussed his early childhood and his early introduction to black music. The music vet candidly revealed that he was obsessed with black culture at a very young age. He also DJed – at home – and would spin records of black artists for his brother on his imaginary radio show. Leeds knew he wanted to be involved in the music business when he attended an all-black revenue featuring Fats Domino and the Impressions.
The conversation then segued into Leeds’ foray into tour managing, which led to him meeting the Godfather of Soul. Leeds was impressed with Brown’s Live at the Apollo, Vol. 1 (1963) concert album and was eager to work with the late soul icon. “The energy and the passion was unlike anything else that was on record at that point,” he said. “James had a killer band that was ridiculously rehearse…and Brown came to do business.”
While working as a disc jockey in 1965, Leeds interviewed Brown for his Pittsburgh radio station. “For whatever reason he took a liking to me and we would stay in touch,” he recalled. Their close friendship would lead him to be the publicity director for Brown and then eventually his tour manager from 1970 to 1974.
For the final hour, Leeds spoke of the various artists he managed throughout his career including D’Angelo (The Voodoo Tour), Raphael Saadiq, Maxwell and Chris Rock (five U.S. tours).
“I still love the music,” he says of being a tour manager. “I’m blessed to still have a job that I love to do.”