Inside The Industry: John Giddings
Alice Gee | 19/08/2021
For our first ‘In The Industry’ piece I am joined by the one and only John Giddings who is legendry far and wide in the music and touring industry. Having set up Solo Agency, managing three of the five top-selling concert tours around the world, John has found noteriety in reviving The Isle Of Wight Festiival. Speaking with John over the phone (no surprise with what I imagine is one hell of a schedule) I was excited to hear his tales of the industry, advice and some of his favourite moments.
(A) When did you realise that the music industry and events was a profession you wanted to go into?
(JG) When I was about 13/14 I was in a group and I realised I wasn’t a musician. Me and my friend became social sec’s at the local college and he got a job in the music business. At the time I thought if I go to a university and become a social secretary, I can get into the music business. I studied philosophy and sociology and although I still don’t know what they are in a way, I did become a social secretary and I got a job in the music business.
(A) I love it, so different to how others may have thought you found your way into the industry.
(JG) It’s the truth though, I’m the only person you’ll ever meet who went to university knowing what they wanted to do for a living. Nobody [knows what they’re going to do], our daughter’s been through the whole thing, she was head girl, got 1st in classes now she’s got no clue. How do you know what you want to do at that age, my wife always says to me ‘how are you so determined to do it?’ and I can’t even remember knowing it, I just remember walking into a pub and saw the Sex Pistols and thought ‘f*cking hell, this is cool’. What you have to realise is that nobody helped me at all with anything I ever did. And I’m determined in my career to help every single person that asks for help because nobody helped me and you’ll find people don’t give you the time because they’re arrogant. I really believe the more successful you are the more humble you should be, you can’t change the past you can only change the future, it’s very simple. I promote a gig in a field and I’m grateful people pay me to come.
(A) What should you expect from your day-to-day?
(JG) You can’t expect anything. Everything is your job, you must realise there is no limit, it has to happen. You say ‘I’m not going to do this, it’s not my job’ you’re in trouble, you can’t think that way, otherwise your event wont happen.
(A) What would you consider a few of your biggest mistakes?
(J) I think I’m one of the luckiest people alive, although I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, I’ve won more than I’ve lost. The three biggest mistakes I’ve ever made are;
1- When the lawyer from Take That called me up and said they’re reforming and I said “is Robbie Williams in the group?” he said “no” and I said “No thank you.”
2- I was offered Culture Club by Virigin Records, and I thought Karma Chameleon wasn’t going to be a hit.
3- And the third one was The Pretenders, I went to a rehearsal and they were terrible, but I booked their first ever gig and didn’t go. But you need to see a group in front of an audience and see how they react. But they’re the three worst things I’ve ever done, and I’ve never told anyone that so it’s a world exclusive.
(A) What’re you most excited for being back at Isle Of Wight Festival?
(JG) I love working with a team to achieve something. When you put an artist on stage and they perform a brilliant song and the audience go wild I get a shiver up my back. I think it was worthwhile stressing about it. To deliver entertainment for people is one of the best things you can ever do, it’s a satisfying experience. You know when Freddy Mercury played Live Aid and said ‘anyone who says they’re doing this just for the starving in Africa is lying.’ You’re doing it for yourself and for other people and everyone benefits.
(A) How do you think the atmosphere at IOW post COVID will differ from the past?
(JG) Not much. I love when you go into a field and enjoy a group, talking to the stranger next to you because you’ve got a shared experience. You go to a football match and they’ll probably kick your head in.
(A) And before we go what’s a few of your career highlights?
(JG) That’s really hard. Erm, David Bowie at Wembley Stadium, my first ever Wembley Stadium show. I had to go on stage and announce the health and safety, and I was so scared I read the first page twice, my legs were shaking. Another would be when we won the best festival award at one of the first festival awards. It was a magic moment because people told me not to do it and advised me against it. My wife always says to me ‘why’d you bother?’, but I just believed in it, and I was naive. I judge a lot of the decisions that I made when I was younger. I formed my own company off my back, I had f*ck all money, I just took a leap of faith and believed in myself. I thought ‘if it all goes wrong I’ll go and grow mushrooms on Dartmoor’. It’s not arrogance, it’s gambling. I told someone the other day to stop betting on horses because they were losing a lot of money, and they said ‘John, you bet on people with two legs every day of your life’ and I’d never thought of it like that.
John isn’t just straight talking, dedicated to the cause of bringing fans entertainment but he is the perfect example of what can be achieved when you’re determined and passionate about what you love. You can follow John and his industry endeavours on Instagram.