Tim Collins (manager)
Just as the 1980s marked the return of Aerosmith -- "one of the most dramatic comebacks ever in rock"—they also underlined the rise to prominence of the band's personal manager, Tim Collins.
At the age of 14, Collins joined a band called Tax Free. Playing guitar in the band, Collins also took responsibility for booking gigs for the band and handling their finances. While playing in the band and going to school, Collins worked full-time at Anderson-Little as a clothing salesman and used the money he earned to buy the band a sound system and a truck. When Tax Free replaced Collins in 1970, they told Collins that "you make a better manager than a guitarist" and asked Collins if he would manage them.
As he continued to manage Tax Free, Collins opened Bands Unlimited Productions, which booked local talent in the Boston area that played all of the local colleges and night clubs. In 1977, he signed The Fools, a young rock band with a novel edge. They rose to high regional prominence very quickly. In order to gain the clout to develop them, he moved to New York City in 1978 to work for Castle Music Productions Inc., where he brought The Fools.
Collins worked for artist manager Peter Casperson, known for his work with some of the great folk-rock artists of the era including Jonathan Edwards, Martin Mull, Orphan, and Duke and the Drivers. While working at Castle Music, Collins had by himself managed to get The Fools signed to EMI Records (the record company that also signed the Beatles).
The Fools, with the support of the larger organization at Castle Music, experienced success with the hits "Psycho Chicken" and "It’s a Night for Beautiful Girls". In 1979, "Psycho Chicken", an X-rated parody of The Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer", exploded over the airwaves of Boston. The band was so excited that they followed up almost immediately with another hit, "It's a Night for Beautiful Girls". Shortly thereafter, EMI Records signed the band and sent them to tour the U.S. with The Knack. "The tour was a smashing success." After the tour, the band headed to Miami to record their debut album Sold Out.
Collins left Castle Music on April 1, 1979 and started Collins/Barrasso Agency. Steve Barrasso, his new partner, was a local Boston musician whose musical career with a band called Calamity Jayne was cut short by a lung condition. Thankfully, though, the two met and Steve convinced Tim to leave Castle and start their own business. The Collins/Barrasso Agency established its headquarters in Allston, MA.
The Collins/Barrasso Agency became the place to be for New England-based regional recording artists. Some of the many talented musicians who were on the roster included Jonathan Edwards, Aztec Two-Step, The James Montgomery Blues Band, Duke and the Drivers, Orleans, and many others. They also produced and procured talent from the major agencies for college shows and larger concert venues throughout New England.
History with Aerosmith
In the early 1980s, Tim Collins worked as the manager for The Joe Perry Project, the solo project created by guitarist Joe Perry who had left Aerosmith in 1979. In 1984, Collins orchestrated the reformation of the original Aerosmith. He succeeded when guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford rejoined the band in April 1984. He believed he could make Aerosmith the biggest band in the world by 1990, if he reformed the original band and got them clean and sober. Aerosmith officially reformed in May 1984 and hired Collins as their manager. After every major record label passed on signing Aerosmith to a recording contract in the summer of 1984, Collins, with the help of the infamous music attorney Brian Rohan, inspired legendary A&R man John Kalodner to sign Aerosmith to Geffen Records. The band toured extensively and created their first album after the reunion of the classic lineup in 1985, titled Done with Mirrors. However, the album wasn't the success they had hoped for, the band wasn't receiving mainstream publicity, and the drug addictions of the band members and their attempts to quit drugs on their own weren't working. Collins and his team, with the help of Dr. Louis Cox, orchestrated a drug and alcohol intervention on lead singer Steven Tyler. Tyler entered a drug rehabilitation program at the Caron Foundation in Pennsylvania that was extremely successful for him. The rest of the band members followed suit shortly thereafter.
One of the major things Collins had Aerosmith agree to was the appearance of Tyler and Perry on Run-DMC's cover of Aerosmith's song "Walk This Way". The collaboration and subsequent video made Aerosmith a household name again and opened the band up to a new generation.
By the time their next album, Permanent Vacation, was released in 1987, all of the band members had gotten clean, and Collins was now working hard to make sure the band won their fame back, through his namesake "Collins Management". By this point in time, Kalodner and Collins had forged a creative partnership that was a winning combination. They enlisted the help of top-notch outside songwriters and producers to work with the band in recording their albums, had the band touring the world extensively with up-and-coming acts opening for the band, enlisted the help of top-notch music video directors, and was now having the band make numerous appearances in television, movies, video games, major festivals, and the like, helping to win over a new generation of fans, while retaining their old fanbase.
Between 1987 and 1994, Aerosmith released three albums and a compilation album (Permanent Vacation, Pump, Get a Grip, and Big Ones) which sold a combined 23 million copies in the United States alone, won the band three Grammy awards, and numerous Video Music Awards.
When the 18-month Get a Grip Tour concluded at the end of 1994, the band wanted to take an extensive break and take their time in recording their next album (Nine Lives), this one for Columbia Records. However, Collins wanted the band to have more structure and kept pressuring the band to do more appearances and record the album more quickly. The band took extensive vacations and Tyler and Perry were working with producer/songwriter Glen Ballard in the mid-1990s, writing, recording, and rehearsing songs, including productive sessions in Miami, Florida. Collins felt that since Tyler and Perry were working independently with Ballard in penning songs and that the entire band would not be working together for months at a time, that the band was breaking up. However Tyler and Perry were noted for writing songs together and then having the band record the songs during recording sessions. Additionally, drummer Joey Kramer was sidelined during pre-production due to health problems. Collins felt that he was losing control of the band, as Aerosmith seemed to have now been able to work independently of their manager and were clean for almost a decade at that point.
The members of Aerosmith, while grateful for all the help Collins had given them in helping the band resurrect and rise back to mainstream popularity and acceptance, fired Collins in July 1996. Within hours of his firing, Collins suggested in interviews that the band may have no longer been sober.
Life After Aerosmith
Tim Collins has been active in many capacities in the music, recovery, and business community.
Some of his activities include:
- Member of the Board of Trustees of Berklee College of Music
- Board of Advisors Caron Foundation (Alcohol Recovery Treatment Center)
- A member of the Board of Advisors of Musicians Assistance Program (MAP) (now called MusiCares), a part of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
- Through his namesake Collins Management, Tim is well known for his work as a "turn-around" consultant, and is in high-demand by artists, corporations, and non-profits around the globe.
- A frequent lecturer and guest speaker at many colleges.
- He resides in Arizona, where he is very active in environmental activities, dog training (for disabilities and rescue), writing, and photography.
In 2009, Tim Collins did an interview for the Biography Channel, which later appeared on the A&E Network. An article in the Boston Globe mentioned that Collins' interview on Biography's Aerosmith special was a "real surprise" since it was his first interview since being fired, thirteen years prior.
"I've never done an interview like this, but time heals all wounds," Collins told the Boston Herald. "They said Steven (Tyler) wasn't going to participate and had squelched a lot of people. I just think they're America's greatest rock band, and I wanted to set the record straight. I was only supposed to do 30 minutes, but I let them keep me on tape for 4.5 hours." Collins mentioned that his participation in the rock doc prompted Aerosmith guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford to talk after seeing a raw cut of Collins' footage.
Collins was asked by the Herald directly if he would consider coming back to manage the band. "I haven't spoken to them. I really couldn't imagine it," Collins said. "Life moves on."
In the summer of 2009, by total coincidence, Collins and Tyler literally bumped into each other in the lobby at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Denver, CO, where there was an exchange of deep feelings, reminiscent of days gone by. Regarding the incident, Collins said "It's always nice to have a situation come full circle, and to be friends (once again) with someone who was so important in your earlier life."