2008 Marcel Avram - 40 years in business - 70 years around the world
Ossy's birthday speech for Marcel!
Today we're here to celebrate the birthday of a man who undoubtedly has always recognized the sign of the times throughout his long-running career. I've accompanied Marcel for over 35 years – from being "go-for" to tour manager, or as presently, as his partner and friend. He still manages to surprise me because he's a man of many facets, it is never dull being around him.
A "Jack-of-all-Trades... and a Master of it All!” A man who can look back on such an eventful life, that it's hard to believe that he did it all in just 70 years.
If you think of everything he has experienced, then 700 hundred years wouldn't be sufficient for most others to accomplish the same. He is famous for his wit and dry humour and his distinct dialect is his trademark and the source of many funny stories.
Many of you present here might not be aware of the fact that Marcel was awarded the Order of Merit, First Class ( Highest German Medal of Honour )...... and not many people are given this honour. For me, there are many reasons why Marcel deserves the Order of Merit, a few of which I would like to share with you:
First off, he would get this award for his undying support to the airline industry, as I don't know any single person who flies as many miles as he does.
Sometimes he’s so fast that his office can’t keep up with him.
He often tells us that he's flying “with de Rainer". We puzzled over "Rainer" for weeks - who was this guy that Marcel was always flying with?
When we confronted him about this, he answered: "Not "de Rainer" but "de Ryan Air" !...
I would also give him the Order of Merit for his “visionary perception in economics “. Because in his earliest days, long before he even thought of promoting, he earned his first money in and around Frankfurt at Rock’n’Roll dance competitions. Together with his clique, winning first prizes, which was, afterall, 50 D.Marks a night.
St.Pauli, the Paradies Hof and the Weindorf in Frankfurt were the playgrounds for Marcel and his friends. Together with his “personal band”,”Fats and His Cats”, one of Germany’s most well-known Rock’n’Roll
bands at the time, he ultimately became German Rock N´Roll Champion.
Marcel and his friends would always agree on who would win and because they were all equally good dancers, the one who needed the money the most would get the prize. In other words: This was probably the first betting scandal in Germany.
Besides that, he played soccer for the Frankfurt Makkabi, where he was considered a fearsome centre-forward. He was a Gerd Müller type and was responsible for many a brawl and dispute on the field as he wasn’t exactly reserved when it came to his opponents. Back then, I was a newcomer to the team and he was so intimidating, nobody wanted to deal with Marcel, therefore I was inflicted with my first battle scars – a fact that continues to this day!
Marcel is a perfect example for an expression which only became known in Universities decades later: the “Verticle Diversification”, because he recognized that he could put his strengths to work for him in all areas he was active in , be it in his selling of rugs or vending fruit or, as we all know, the concert business. And that’s how it came about that Marcel combined the virtues of all 3 lines of work: Somebody else could carry the crates, he could go to bed late and if the money ran out he could pay the artists with rugs.
His first concert was Steppenwolf. “Helga the Red”, Marcel’s girlfriend at the time, had seen the group in the Starclub in Hamburg and convinced Marcel to promote them. That was his introduction into the music business. To everybody’s amusement, Marcel showed up to the first concert, wearing a trendy fringe jacket and a Prince Henry cap, looking like Helmut Schmidt (our former chancellor) dressed up as Davey Crockett . Unfortunately, the tour ended up not being a winner, but after that he promoted Credence Clearwater Revival where he met Marek in Berlin. Because Marek couldn’t find a room for the night, he shared Marcel’s room...and after a night “full of bliss” they decided to set up MAMA Concerts in the beginning of the 70’s !
Basically, according to Marcel, all branches of industry are related to each other.
For example, once, he met a steel magnate who explained to him that he was in the “steel business”. Without missing a beat, Marcel answered, “That’s great, I am in the stealing business, too!”
Marcel was always a backer of music, as long as it didn’t involve his own money. Once, when the legendary and sadly, much too early demised manager of Pink Floyd, Steve O’Rourke said to Marcel at the end of the “Dark Side of the Moon” Tour : The boys are thinking of bringing The Blackberries on tour next time....because they are also on the record...what do you think ? (The Blackberries were the back-up singers), Marcel answered:
Fantastic – what a great idea Steve, I love your ideas, you are the best...then, Steve continued:
But that will cost you a couple of Deutsch Marks more, whereupon Marcel indignantly replied:
Who needs the Blackberries? The kids only want to see the Pink Floyd !!!!
I truly appreciated the way he trusted me in regards to his financial matters, which I encountered at first in the beginning of the 70’s in Germersheim.
Back then, MAMA Concerts were the first to put on an Open Air in Germany which was the start of the legendary British Rock Meetings and it was in ....Germersheim.
Germersheim....you have to let that name just melt in your mouth...what a city!
It was the first Open Air, and an amazing one at that...Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Buddy Miles etc... they were all there. It was there that I experienced how dangerous this business really is.
The reason being, was that the “security” for the event was the feared motorcycle gang, The Bones from Speyer.
Marcel handed me a heavy cash box and informed me that he and Marek had something urgent in Frankfurt to take care of and I should pay the wages to The Bones, as I was the only one he trusted with the money.
I was as proud as if he had handed me an Oscar, and proceeded to the camper where the Bones had gathered so that I could call each one of them in and hand them their pay.
Thank God I opened up the cash box before calling out my first “Come in”, because that’s when I discovered that there were rocks in the said box and not cash...what else could I do but to escape through one of the windows !...By the way, a belated: Thanks again, Marcel !
Additionally, Marcel would have, without a doubt, earned The Order of Merit for his effort in simplifying the German-Greek-Romanian-Israelian-English communication. I’m not referring to a politcal level, although he has conferred with some of the great leaders of the world. For example, U.S. President, Richard Nixon, in London, who turned out to be a double. But at the time, Marcel was certain that he had secured peace for Israel.
Furthermore he would receive the Order of Merit for streamlining every language.
In German, for example, he decided to eliminate all articles and replace it with a simple “DE”, which resulted in “De Astrid, De Ossy, De Marek, De Tina, De Michael !!! He remained stubborn however with one artist, namely: “die Rod “ !
And he knows no language barriers for English either. At the start of his career, a manager asked him
“Where are the limousines ?” Marcel replied : “What do you mean limousines ? You can have Apflesines ! “
Even family names have fallen victim to Avramism Esperanto: When he decided to call David Lieberberg: David Berg, he reasoned: “One Lieberberg in the office is enough!”
Marcel also renamed the composer Stravinski into Stravanska and was so enraptured with his music that he wanted put him on tour. When he was told that Stravinski had been dead for over 2 decades he promptly replied: “What a shame , I could have made him really famous ! “
Basically, Marcel is a man who finds precise words for any situation.. Once, when he was a guest on a TV Show and Fritz Egner, the host, introduced him as the promoter for Michael Jackson in Germany, Marcel patted him on the shoulder and in front of rolling cameras said : “Fritz , I don’t want to brag but I’m the promoter for “ de” whole of “de” Europe ! “
Today the expression Global Player is something we all take for granted, but the first Global Player who came from Germany was, without a doubt, Marcel.
He was the first to successfully promote tours with Rod Stewart or Michael Jackson and would become the first German worldwide promoter, long before AEG Live or Live Nation. A man who still to this day, has the courage to take the path many haven’t and may never. He was and remains a walking office, and a human computer. An office on two legs and a calculator at the same time. Albert Einstein would have loved Marcel ! I have yet to meet anybody who can connect the dots as fast as he can and is as quick in adding up figures in his head. Faster than others with a calculator ! He is famous for his bits of paper everywhere where he jots down numbers and suddenly comes up with a rule of three calculation...Which reminds me...the Cross of Merit...., after you were abandoned by “your Germany”, you managed to, in your own way, with dignity, simply return the Cross by handing it to the doorman at the governors office. That was typical for you because you showed indignation for your unfair treatment.
But enough anecdotes, now I want to speak about Marcel the man.
For me, you redefined the expression “they never come back” ...although you were and are a great promoter, you always remained true to yourself. You always stood your ground and never denied your past, which wasn’t always easy.
You are one of the greats, because you never pretend to be someone you are not !
Not only are you are an icon to me in many ways, but a true friend. When you were going through you’re hardest of times with the justice system you didn’t rail against your fate but shouldered all of the responsibility, and as we can see, made the best of it !
I don’t know too many people who have accomplished what you have accomplished, that is, to start all over again at 60.
You are a great fighter and a true Maccabee your unbending will , your power and your perserverance are incomparable and that is why you have always been a role model to me.
Some people might think that Avram is a “mean dog” to himself and to others, but your closest friends know how you really are. A Man with a soft heart beneath a tough shell. Someone who is compassionate. If one approaches you with the right words, then you are the most caring person in the world and would do anything for those who ask you for your help!
You’ve always been there for me and I know that I can count on you, no matter what !
Dear Marcel, I am very proud to have been able to spend such a big part of my life by your side...and I would personally award you the Order of Merit, First Class, every single day !