Interview - Paul Hurst

Interview: Paul Hurst, Entertainment Promoter: 15th September 2003

We interview one of south east Sydney's most notable promoters, Paul Hurst.

Paul discusses his career, how he got started, the business today, tales from the road and more.

What's your background?

Music has always been one of my main interests from the time I listened to the top 40 every Sunday night on my tiny transistor way back in the 60s to playing my first ukulele, finally progressing onto a guitar. I finally had the courage to play House of the Rising Sun for a friend and I was shocked when he said he liked my rendition!

From there I moved on to performing gospel music on my own, supported other pioneering gospel rock acts such as Freeway in the 70s finally forming my own contemporary gospel band "Revelation" in the mid 80s. Also had a stint as an Elvis impersonator and occasionally when pressured will perform some Elvis gospel. I am currently contemplating an act of "Elvis Singspirations" featuring Elvis gospel songs of which there are plenty. Seems Elvis has been cornered from all directions, Hillybilly Cat, 50s rocker, 70s jump suits but what about his gospel side? Remember he won his first Grammy award for "How Great Thou Art"!

What are the highlights of your career?

Definitely playing guitar and songwriting with Revelation in the 80s. We traveled from hall to hall and from church to church , in fact anywhere people wanted to listen to us. Yes, we were asked for return engagements thank God. Remember playing at a church dinner at Narrabeen and Oscar the singer wowed them, with 10 encores!

Who is some of the greatest talent you have worked with in the past 2 decades?

Lead singer for Revelation, Oscar Santos from Maroubra, the most impressive singer I have encountered over the last decade or two. Oscar is a natural with a relaxed, smooth style, somewhere between Elvis and Tom Jones. Blessed with a great vocal range, managing to hit all those high notes in "Unchained Melody" Oscar is now a regular on the club circuit and gaining a well-deserved reputation for professionalism.

Another singer I am really impressed with happens to be the lead singer with the current pop band "Rockingham Sugar" Gabby is a friend and I have seen her talent develop over the last few years. Incredible voice, sweet, listenable and memorable. Their first CD is being launched later this month and I wish them well. This band has it all, great singing, great musicians and they write catchy melodies as well! Nice people as well which is always a bonus!

What motivates you?

Firstly my main motivation is my faith in Christ which keeps me going. I have satisfaction and peace and that's what counts more than monetary achievements.

Secondly my interest in the music scene I guess. So much talent out there waiting to be presented to the public! Like gold waiting to be discovered. Who will do the job?

What are a few funny stories from the road?

A Revelation story comes to mind. The band were booked to play in Wollongong Town Hall for an evening concert. We totally misjudged the time it would take our old ricketty 1960 Toyota bus to reach our destination. We finally turned up at the venue at 7.55pm and we were on in 5 minutes. No time to set up the amplifiers, so I just picked up my tiny 10 watt practice amp. At least they could see I was playing, don't know if they heard a note. All I could hear was the singer standing next to me! Maybe we should have called ourselves "Visual Revelation".

Another time I had programmed some chords into an electronic synthesizer before a performance, believing like a boy scout I had to be prepared. Well, half way through the first song I dropped something on the floor, I bent down but the keyboard kept playing minus my hands! The audience were amazed thinking I was some type of magician.

What qualities should a good promoter process?

Persistence, courage and an intuitive talent for picking music that will appeal to your target audience.
You have to believe in the bands you promote. They have to be the type of band I would pay to listen to.

Why does the industry attract so many eccentric types?

Guess you need to be a little eccentric at times to survive the ups and downs. Keeping the energy batteries topped up is a prerequisite.

Promoting is not just a steady 9 to 5 job. Dealing with a wide range of personalities means we need to be all things to all people!

Are there many "dodgy" promoters in the market, or have most of these dried up over the years?

Buyer beware! Seriously I have not had many unpleasant occurrences but still need to be vigilant.

Who are some of your life and career mentors?

Judy Robertson, Australia's first rock and roller was a major influence in my life. She recently passed away and is sadly missed. Judy was an inspiration. Her insights and knowledge of the Australian music industry was incredible. She seemed to know everyone from the 50s to the 90s! A true professional, great attitude, so positive and also a nice person. Supportive to up and coming talent!

What are your favorite venues in Australia?

Probably Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL for the amazing mix of talent they promote.

Why are the RSL clubs so popular in Australia?

Where else can you go to a show for a few dollars and experience world class entertainment? To me this type of venue is a much more intimate, grass roots experience than joining several thousand in a large auditorium watching a screen up in the air.

How has the Internet had a positive and negative impact on the entertainment business?

Great for tracking down and booking your favourite artist! Email makes it so much easier to get in touch with an artist you have only seen on the stage. Electro fanmail. Good opportunities for young artists to self publish on the net. Not so good I guess for commercial CD sales.

Would you do business with Max Markson or Harry M. Miller?

Unknown to me? Have heard of Harry M Miller, would like to meet him I guess.

Who is the greatest performer and promoter of all time?

Elvis the greatest performer and most probably his shadow, the Colonel would be a hard act to beat as a manager/promoter.

What are your thoughts on "Australian Idol"?

Great show, great talent, I watch it. It is filling a need in the industry to promote young acts who need public exposure. Whatever happened to Young Talent Time?

How have you given back to the industry?

My aim has always been to promote talent that deserves to be promoted. If this means that it may cost me something I have carried on regardless. Promotion is almost everything in the music biz and there is always someone out there needing a helping hand. I have promoted major gospel concerts and my policy is to invite one or two unknowns on the bill to give them a break. Much has been given to me and I believe I have the responsibility to give back to the industry.


Editors note: An interesting, entertaining and insightful interview with one of the industry's real great guys. See you at the club soon!


Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL Club

Clubs NSW

Elvis official website

Australian Idol official website

Young Talent Time fan website

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