John Reid (music manager)

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John Reid
Born (1949-09-09) September 9, 1949 (age 69)
Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Occupation(s)Music manager
Years active1967–1999

John Reid (born September 9, 1949) is a former music manager.

Early life[edit]

Reid was born in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, the son of John Reid, a welder, and Betty, a shop worker. Apart from three years in New Zealand, he was brought up in the Gallowhill district of Paisley. He attended St Mirin's Academy, where he was a fellow pupil of singers Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan. He then attended Stow College in Glasgow, where he studied marine propulsion, but dropped out in 1969.[1]


Reid began his music management career in 1967 at the age of 18 as a promoter for EMI. At the age of 19, he became the Tamla Motown label manager for the UK. In 1971, Reid set up his own company with a few hundred pounds in savings and a £5,000 loan.

He had met Elton John, then known as Reg Dwight, at a Motown Christmas party. They moved in with each other, became lovers, and John became Reid's first client.[1] Their personal relationship stopped after five years, but he remained John's manager until 1998. Their professional relationship ended over a leaked letter from John's accountants detailing Reid's spending, which was found by Benjamin Pell and published in the Daily Mirror.[2] The ending of their business relationship in 1998[3] led to a legal action in 2000.[4] Reid settled out of court by paying Elton £3.4 million.[5][6] Reid's company earned more than £73 million from representing John between 1980 and 1998.[6]

In 1974, in New Zealand, Reid got into a fight with a journalist at a nightclub over the lack of whisky at a press launch and was sentenced to a month in prison.[1]

Between 1975 and 1978, Reid was the manager of British rock group Queen.[6]

In 1994, he was the manager for Irish dancer Michael Flatley. After Flatley left Riverdance and ended his relationship with Reid, Flatley paid Reid approximately £1 million to settle a wrongful termination lawsuit.[7]

Reid retired from management in 1999.[6]

In 2005, Reid was a judge on the Australian version of The X Factor alongside Mark Holden and Kate Ceberano.

In popular culture[edit]

Reid was portrayed by Aidan Gillen in the 2018 film Bohemian Rhapsody. He will be portrayed by Richard Madden in the 2019 film Rocketman.[8]

Personal life[edit]

In 1998, Reid sold his art collection, estimated to have been worth £2 million.[9]

Reid currently lives in Australia.


  1. ^ a b c "For 28 years John Reid and Elton John were closer than husband and wife". Daily Record (Scotland). 13 May 1998.
  2. ^ Boggan, Steve (14 March 1998). "Hacker stole secrets of stars from dustbins". The Independent.
  3. ^ Perrone, Pierre (12 May 1998). "Arts: Sorry seems to be the hardest word". The Independent.
  4. ^ "Leaked letter 'enraged' Sir Elton". BBC News. 4 December 2000.
  5. ^ O'Neill, Sean (17 November 2000). "Ex-manager hears singer talk of 'betrayal'". The Daily Telegraph.
  6. ^ a b c d "Turning raw talent into TV stars". The Age. 14 May 2005.
  7. ^ "Lord of dance appears to fall flat on his ego". Irish Times. 21 October 1998.
  8. ^ Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), retrieved 2019-02-20
  9. ^ Lister, David (30 November 1998). "John Reid, guru to Elton John, sells art collection to `simplify his life'". The Independent.