Paul McGuinness

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Paul McGuinness
McGuinness in 2010
McGuinness in 2010
Background information
Born16 June 1951 (1951-06-16) (age 71)
Rinteln, Germany
Occupation(s)Pop Music Group Management
Years active1970s–present

Paul McGuinness (born 16 June 1951) is the founder of Principle Management Limited, a popular music act management company based in Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland. He was the manager of the rock band U2 from 1978 to 2013.

Early life[edit]

McGuinness was born in a British military hospital at Rinteln, Westphalia in Germany, where his father, Philip McGuinness (a Liverpudlian) was serving with the Royal Air Force. His mother Sheila McGuinness née Lyne, was a schoolteacher from County Kerry, Ireland. There were three children in the family: Paul, Niall, and Katy.

McGuinness received his early formal education in Ireland at the private Jesuit boarding school Clongowes Wood College. From there he went on to Trinity College Dublin, where he directed plays, edited the magazine T.C.D. Miscellany, and promoted gigs,[1] but dropped out without a degree.[2]


Early years[edit]

Before becoming involved with U2, he worked as a film assistant director on productions such as John Boorman's Zardoz.[3] For a time, he also managed folk-rock group Spud.[4]


McGuinness first met U2 at a Dublin gig on 25 May 1978 where they were supporting the Gamblers. Following this meeting, McGuinness became U2's manager, having been introduced to the band by Bill Graham, a journalist with Hot Press magazine.

He founded Principle Management Limited on 29 March 1984.[5]

His original agreement with the band was that the money would be split equally 5 ways, though this was changed later.[6]

McGuinness and Bill Whelan set up a music publishing company called McGuinness/Whelan Publishing in the late 1980s.[7] Whelan later composed the music for Riverdance.

In 2002 McGuinness was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Meteor Music Awards at Point Theatre Dublin and U2 won the best Irish Band Award.[8]

Noted for his business acumen, he has been responsible for U2 3D concert films, U2-branded iPods, sponsorship from BlackBerry and the first-ever concert streamed live on YouTube.[9]

McGuinness is regarded as the fifth member of U2, although in an interview with The Irish Press in 1985, when asked if he was the fifth member of U2, he replied "the fifth member of U2 is in Adam (Clayton)'s trousers". He is also regarded as one of the most successful managers in the music business.[10]

McGuinness stepped down as manager of U2 after 34 years on 13 November 2013, with Madonna's manager Guy Oseary succeeding him in 2014 when he sold Principle to Live Nation.[11]

Other activities[edit]

He was a founding partner of TV3 (Ireland) and was one of the owners of Ardmore Film Studios.[12]

He became a member of the Arts Council of Ireland on 1 January 1988, having been appointed by Charles Haughey and served until February 2000 when he resigned.[7]

He has been an advocate on behalf of artists, record labels, and music publishers.[13] On 28 January 2008, in a speech at the Midem music industry convention in Cannes, McGuinness specifically accused companies such as Apple, Google, Yahoo!, and Facebook of building "multi-billion dollar industries on the back of our content without paying for it".[14][15]

In 2015, he founded Primo Productions,[16] a film and TV company.  Primo has produced 3 Seasons of Riviera, a drama set in the South of France.  McGuinness wrote the "list of ingredients" for the show: "Rich people behaving badly in the sun, yachts, Maseratis, great clothes, beautiful women, art fraud, money laundering through the auction houses, Russians, English people, American, French.  Murder, adultery".[citation needed] Everyday life on the Côte d’Azur. McGuinness's production partner is Kris Thykier of Archery Pictures.[17]  The show was originally commissioned by Anne Mensah of SKY Atlantic.[18]

Personal life[edit]

McGuinness married Kathy Gilfillan in 1977.[19] They met whilst he was studying at Trinity. Gilfillan is director of The Lilliput Press.[20] They have 2 children.


  1. ^ Daniel Reardon (2013). Trinity Tales: Trinity College Dublin in the Seventies – Kathy Gilfillan – Google Books. ISBN 9781843513018. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  2. ^ Marlowe, Lara. "Former U2 manager Paul McGuinness: Cracking crime on the Côte d'Azur". The Irish Times. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  3. ^ "U2 Manager Paul McGuinness on Mark Fisher: 'He Turned Everyone's Wild Ideas Into Steel, Lumber and Canvas Reality'". Billboard.
  4. ^ "Profile: Paul McGuinness: They Do the Music, He Does the Business". The Sunday Times. 14 November 2004. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2020 – via
  5. ^ "Principle Management Limited in , Company Accounts & Directors Webcheck | Duedil". 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  6. ^ Boyd, Brian. "U2 and Paul McGuinness: the end of the affair". The Irish Times. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  7. ^ a b Višnja Cogan (2006). U2: An Irish Phenomenon. The Collins Press. pp. 163–167. ISBN 1905172222.
  8. ^ "Meteor – Meteor Ireland Music Awards Past Winners". 2013. Archived from the original on 1 February 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  9. ^ Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson (2013). "Lunch with the FT: Paul McGuinness –". Retrieved 25 April 2013. He claims no creative role but can take credit for a series of eye-catching deals.
  10. ^ Cunningham, James & Harney, Brian (2012). Strategy and Strategists. OUP Oxford. p. 41. ISBN 978-0199219711.
  11. ^ "BBC News – U2's manager Paul McGuinness 'set to step down after 34 years'". 13 November 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  12. ^ Deegan, Gordon (17 October 2011). "Ardmore Studios profits drop 41%". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  13. ^ Bill Werde (2013). "Q&A: U2 Manager Paul McGuinness Reflects on Steve Jobs' Passing | Billboard". Retrieved 25 April 2013. a more prominent, more outspoken advocate on behalf of artists, record labels, publishers and other rights-holders
  14. ^ Ben Fenton (2013). "U2 manager urges ISPs to help fight web piracy –". Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  15. ^ CMU editorial (2013). "Google is the problem, U2 manager tells MIDEM | CMU: Complete Music Update". Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  16. ^ "Welcome to our production company directory | Screen Producers Ireland". Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  17. ^ "Riviera Series 2". Archery Pictures. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Anne Mensah". Royal Television Society. 25 July 2017. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  19. ^ Eamon Dunphy (1987). Unforgettable Fire The Story of U2. Penguin. p. 141. ISBN 0670821047.
  20. ^ "Kathy Gilfillan's Director Profile, The Lilliput Press Limited". 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2013.

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