Vicky Hamilton (music executive)
|Birth name||Vicky Hamilton|
April 1, 1958 |
Charleston, West Virginia
|Associated acts||Guns N' Roses, Poison, Faster Pussycat, Mötley Crüe, Stryper|
Vicky Hamilton (born April 1, 1958) is an American record executive, personal manager, promoter and club booker, writer (journalist, playwright, and screenwriter), documentary film maker, and artist.
Hamilton is noted for managing the early careers of Guns N' Roses, Poison and Faster Pussycat; for being a management consultant for Mötley Crüe and Stryper, a 1980s concert promoter on the Sunset Strip, and a club booker at Bar Sinister from 2001 to 2010.
Hamilton did A&R at Geffen Records from 1988 to 1992, worked at Lookout Management, at Vapor Records from 1994 to 1996, and as an A&R consultant at Capitol Records from 1997 to 1999. She started her own record label, Small Hairy Dog, in 1997, a joint venture with Risk Records in 1998. The only artist signed to the label was June Carter Cash whose album Press On won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2000.
Before moving to Los Angeles
Hamilton was born in Charleston, West Virginia, to Woodrow Arthur Hamilton and Clara Virginia Hamilton. She was the youngest of three girls. Her sisters are Sharon Lee Hamilton and Brenda Ann Hamilton.
Hamilton's father was a coal miner, marine and then an engineer for BF Goodrich. While she was in the 5th grade, her father was transferred to Fort Wayne, Indiana. She graduated from New Haven High School, New Haven, Indiana in 1976, and attended Fort Wayne Art Institute before moving to Los Angeles in 1981.
Hamilton's first music industry job was as a record store clerk in Indiana. While working at the record store, she became a concert review writer for the Three Rivers Review and a concert booker for Summer in the City, all in Fort Wayne. An art school dropout, Hamilton began to manage bands in 1979, Dynasty was the first, followed by Ebenezer and Destin. While interviewing Tom Petty for Three Rivers Review, Tom told Hamilton she was a California girl and that was all it took, soon Hamilton moved to Los Angeles, California.
Vicky arrived in Hollywood in 1981 and after a short run as a cocktail waitress at the Palomino Club, then Gazzarri's, she was hired by Gary Gersh to work as a record store clerk at Licorice Pizza record store, which was across the street from the Whisky a Go Go. While working there, she met Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe and began helping the band; soon after she was hired as a management consultant by then manager Allan Coffman. Hamilton did display merchandizing all over Los Angeles for the Greenworld-distributed "Too Fast For Love" record and helped shop the band to the record labels. Once Mötley Crüe signed to Elektra Records, the band got new management and Hamilton was out of a job.
She then became a management consultant for a Christian rock band Stryper. After parting was with Stryper, on what was called "spiritual differences."
Hamilton started managing Poison soon after they moved to LA. At the same time, she was promoting concerts at The Roxy Theatre and Whisky a Go Go while being backed by guitar dealer Howie Hubberman. Hamilton booked and promoted many of the 1980s glam and metal bands, and after she had a falling out with Poison once they signed with Enigma Records, she began managing Guns N' Roses and Darling Cruel.
Guns N' Roses
Early in 1984, Vicky got a call at Silverlining Entertainment where she was an agent representing rock acts. Axl Rose called Hamilton, he wanted to bring her a demo, and she did not have a way to play it in her office. So she asked him to mail in a demo, he responded, "I have a ghetto blaster, I'll bring it and play it for you." Hamilton agreed and when Rose and Izzy Stradlin showed up an hour later, Hamilton booked Hollywood Rose (Rose and Stradlin's band prior to Guns N' Roses) sight unseen based on the strength of that demo.
Hamilton was also booking Stryper and Slash's band, Black Sheep. Vicky introduced Slash to Axl when Hollywood Rose opened for Black Sheep and Stryper at the Music Machine, in West LA. Shortly after Chris Weber (guitarist of Hollywood Rose) departure for New York City, Slash became the guitarist, followed by Steven Adler on drums and Duff McKagan on bass. The original lineup of Guns N' Roses was then born. Hamilton a big supporter of the band began to take on management duties when they moved into a rehearsal space near Howie Hubberman's guitar shop, Guitars R Us, which was off Sunset. The band was always in trouble with the law, the LAPD was looking for Axl Rose. Slash convinced Vicky to let Axl hide out at her apartment until it blew over.
Over the next six months, all the members of the band (with the exception of McKagan who lived with his girlfriend) moved into Hamilton's one bedroom apartment on Clarke St. in West Hollywood, which she was already sharing with Jennifer Perry.
Hamilton booked many live shows for the band, got them a lawyer and took many meeting with major record companies. Vicky convinced Howie Hubberman to invest $25,000 in gear, clothes and rehearsals. As a result of her efforts and the bands talent, a major label bidding war ensued and on March 26. 1986, Guns N' Roses signed with Geffen Records.
Hamilton took an A&R consulting job at Geffen Records soon after agreeing to let the label find the band major management. She went on to manage Darling Cruel, Faster Pussycat, The Lostboys and Salty Dog securing them all major record deals. Hamilton later took a full-time A&R job at Geffen Records and brought in deals for Salty Dog, Rick Parker, Half Way Home, I, Napoleon and The Graveyard Train. Hamilton worked at Geffen Records from 1988 to 1992. Guns N' Roses did not pay back the loan to Hubberman, and this resulted in Hamilton suing the band, the matter was settled out of court.
On April 14, 2012, Guns N' Roses was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Steven Adler thanked Vicky for what she meant to him and the band.
In an interview with Legendary Rock Interviews, Steven Adler was asked.
- LRI What did Vicky Hamilton do to really set the table for Guns N' Roses?
- Steven Adler What didn't she do? (laughs). I love Vicky Hamilton. There are probably four or five people tops that I will be mentioning by name at the Hall of Fame and they are certainly among the people who truly deserve to be thanked. I love Vicky and Marc so much because they truly, truly believed in our band and put their own asses on the line for us. The Vicky thing was devastating to me personally. It was just like this reunion bullshit with Axl in that I had no say in it whatsoever. I didn't want to see Vicky leave as our manager, not at ALL, but a couple, a couple of the other guys did. They were concerned and saying "Well, she's a woman and people are thinking she's not doing as good of a job as a man could do". I did not feel that way and I was very hurt when we could not take her with us as our career went forward.
- LRI: Were you there when Kim Fowley was with Axl and the others and was suggesting that Vicky was too "pretty" to be a manager?
- Steven: Yes I was and while Kim Fowley might not have been that big of an influence personally on Axl, he was an influence as far as what he had accomplished in the business. Axl agreed with Kim and I didn’t. I knew that she was great and she still is. It was beyond ridiculous to say that a woman couldn’t have impact on our careers because as I knew full well that Teresa Ensenat and Vicky Hamilton were every bit as important as Tom Zutaut to our success. Axl was all worried about having women involved in our careers when two of the three main people involved in us making it were women! It made no f****ing sense to me that he couldn’t see that while some women were crazy as f**k some of them are freakin geniuses. Vicky Hamilton is not only crafty but smart as a whip and knew better than anyone how to guide our career.
Hamilton continued to manage many bands and artists. Working at Lookout Management/Vapor Records where she managed American recording artist The Freewheelers and TVT Recording artist, Portable. She also took an interest in painters and developed a relationship with lowbrow artist Ron English, repping him for special project and album jackets. Vicky also repped The Street Phantom, a tagger whom she bailed out of jail, who went on to do the album jacket for Rage Against the Machine, The Battle of Los Angeles. While managing The Freewheelers, who were label mates with Johnny Cash, they were invited to open for the man in black at the House of Blues. Backstage after the show in 1996, Hamilton told label president Rick Rubin and artist Tom Petty how much she enjoyed Johnny's performance and particularly Johnny's sidekick and wife, June Carter Cash. Rubin suggested that Hamilton make a record with June and this started a friendship between Carter-Cash and Hamilton. Vicky shopped the idea of making a record with June to many major labels and was shocked that no one wanted to do it. This resulted in Hamilton starting her own label, Small Hairy Dog in 1999. Small Hairy Dog joint ventured with Risk Records to produce Press On. In 2000 the album won a Grammy for best traditional folk record. 1997, In addition to starting her own label, Hamilton followed her friend Gary Gersh who hired her at Licorice Pizza and she worked with at Geffen Records to Capitol Records as an A&R consultant, where she worked until 1999. Hamilton started her own management company, Aesthetic V in 2001. She manages, consults and represents several musical acts and visual artists.
She booked famous Hollywood club, Bar Sinister from 2001–2010 and profiled A&R people for the A&R Registry from 2005 to 2010. Hamilton also taught at the Musician's Institute from 2007 to 2009.
Currently Vicky's has been writing. She has co-written two screenplays and a musical play. The musical play, Glitter Beach (co-written with Robbie Quine, who is writing the music) has been picked up by director Daniel Henning and he is overseeing the rewrites, it will be ready for the stage in 2012. Hamilton is also making a documentary about the music business called "Until The Music Ends" with partner Bill Watson (Midnight Train Media). The film will debut in 2012. Hamilton is also working on an autobiography.
- Driven, Mötley Crüe
- Behind the Music, Guns N' Roses
- Do it for the Band, Women of the Sunset Strip
- When Metal Ruled The World
- Vicky will have an upcoming interview on Grunge and Glam coming out on VH1 in March
- Popaganda-The Art and Crimes of Ron English
- Hollywood Rocks! The Ultimate Documentary
- Vicky was interviewed on Axl Rose the Prettiest Star DVD UK release also on two Metal Head video magazines Volume one and two
- My Appetite for Destruction Steven Adler
- Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N' Roses by Stephen Davis 
- Slash by Slash with Anthony Bozza
- Record Store Days by Gary Calamar and Phil Gallo
- Hollywood Rocks by Cleopatra