Frank Nicholas Werber (March 27, 1929 – May 19, 2007) was a German-born American talent manager, restaurant owner and entrepreneur, who was particularly influential as the discoverer, manager and producer of The Kingston Trio in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Life and career
Werber was born in Cologne, Germany, but moved with his parents as a young child to escape the Nazi regime, first to the Netherlands and then Belgium. His mother died, and after the start of World War II he and his father were captured and interned in Vichy France. They managed to escape, and fled to Africa and then to New York, arriving in 1941. They lived in Florida and then in Denver, Colorado, and after graduating Frank joined the US Navy. After visiting San Francisco on a tour of duty, he returned to live there in 1950 after his discharge.
He worked at a wide variety of jobs, including for some time as a photographer for United Press, but became involved with the local nightclub scene and in the early 1950s became stage manager under Enrico Banducci at the hungry i nightclub. After four years working at the club, and developing contacts in the entertainment business, he set up as an independent press agent. In early 1957 he saw Dave Guard and his informal group the Calypsonians perform at the Cracked Pot club in Redwood City, and decided to work with them.
Changes in personnel left a trio of Guard, Nick Reynolds and Bob Shane, with Werber as their manager and effective fourth member. Werber professionalized the group, and improved their stage presentation. The group grew in popularity, signing to Capitol Records, and began a succession of best-selling recordings. Werber closely managed their career and their investments through various personnel changes, until the Trio split up in 1967. As the Kingston Trio's manager, Werber is credited with designing the basic hospitality rider concerning the environment in which musicians perform; and also with transforming "what had been the college lecture circuit and turned it into the college concert circuit".
Werber also managed other folk-oriented, jazz and rock groups including The Journeymen, We Five, The Sons of Champlin and The Mystery Trend. He set up Trident Productions; developed a recording studio, Columbus Studios, in the Columbus Tower; and established the successful restaurant, The Trident, described as "a psychedelic health food restaurant with hanging plants and handmade candles where rock musicians hung out and ogled braless waitresses", in Sausalito. In 1967 he gave up his music business interests to concentrate on the restaurant and other investments. The following year federal agents raided his home and seized 258 pounds of marijuana, which he was accused of conspiring to transport. He was found not guilty, but was then tried for possession and cultivation of marijuana, for which he was found guilty and served a short jail sentence.
In 1974 he started to give up most of his San Francisco business interests, moved for a time to Hawaii and then retired to a ranch in Silver City, New Mexico. He suffered a stroke several years before his death in 2007. He had married twice, and had five children.
- "Behind the Kingston Trio: Frank Werber", Kingston Trio program notes, 1962, lazyca.com. Retrieved 20 March 2018
- Peter Fimrite, "Frank Werber -- charismatic music agent, entrepreneur", SFGate, May 27, 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2018
- Marti Childs, Jeff March, Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone?, EditPros LLC, 2011, pp.96-117
- Alec Palao, "Frank Werber 1929-2007", Ace Records. Retrieved 20 March 2018
- Death notice: Frank Nicholas Werber, Legacy.com. Retrieved 20 March 2018