NICK OF TIME
Who is Nick Hampton?
Typically boring, definitely not cool, mild-mannered accountant just happens to be in the right place at the right time to get a start in the amazing world of rock ’n’ roll and make international record labels his home for more than two decades.
Sounds like an unlikely outline for a really riveting piece of pulp fiction, doesn’t it? The Musical Adventures of a Quiet Bean Counter. Except that it’s not fiction, it’s true, and I’m the bean counter, though perhaps not your usual one. And so this is my story, and my life.
My career in the music industry started in London, took me all over Europe, to America, Australia and New Zealand, and gave me executive jobs with giant labels like EMI and CBS, as well as some smaller ones that punched way above their weight when it came to hits and hit-makers.
I would hate to be remembered only as a name-dropper, but the fact is my time in music, behind the scenes, brought me into contact with dozens of artists, movers and assorted shakers who I think everyone in the business has heard of. The list, in no particular order, includes Petula Clark, Tony Hatch, Jackie Trent, The Kinks, Donovan, Dick James, Elton John, Sandie Shaw, Johnny Cash, Andy Williams, Tony Bennett, Vera Lynn, Lew Grade and Clive Davis. And from my time in Sydney, Slim Dusty and Joy McKean, Ted Albert, Glenn Shorrock, Smoky Dawson, Jenny Morris, Jimmy Barnes, Iva Davies, Neil Finn and Richard Clapton, to name just a few, not to mention the wonderfully large cast of fine people I got to know through APRA, AMCOS and then through Nordoff-Robbins, the world of music therapy.
I ended up spending forty years in the music business, seeing mostly the good, occasionally the bad, and sometimes the downright ugly. In writing this memoir, I decided to dive in where it all began, London in the early sixties. This will take me up to my arrival in Australia for my period as managing director of EMI in the eighties. Then I’ll tell you a bit about my ancestors and the world this very middle-class boy grew up in, before I return to Oz for my post-EMI days and round it all off.
I hope you enjoy the read, because I certainly enjoyed the ride.
‘The advantage of a bad memory
is that one enjoys several times
the same good things for the first time.’
Here is a selection of the swag of endorsements for NICK OF TIME: MY LIFE AND CAREER, ALL ON THE RECORD from industry leaders who knew Nick Hampton.
Nick’s colourful description of life in the music industry brought back a flood of memories. Reflections that mirrored some of my views regarding the mega-egos and bad decisions makers, but more importantly highlighted the extraordinary visionaries and talented ones. His journey has been long and varied and his achievements many. Thank you for a good read!
Fifa Riccobono – Former CEO of Albert Music
Thanks to too many years at the wild and woolly end of the rock ’n’ roll industry, followed by even more years in business dealing with the advertising industry, I’ve developed Pistanthrophobia. It’s nothing to do with excessive alcohol consumption (well not entirely), it is the inability to trust other people. So imagine my surprise when I met Nick Hampton those many decades ago. Could it be possible that the big smile before me was genuine? Was Nick’s desire to help others less fortunate a ruse for some other agenda? Could he really have this much care and concern and yet be pragmatic enough with a “let’s just do this” attitude to effect real change? You bet! Trust is rarer than diamonds in this industry but Nick is a trust billionaire. And he spends this trust very wisely by corralling the world-weary cynics in our industry together for purpose. There are a lot of well meaning do-gooders who can just talk the talk. Few are the Nick Hampton kind. I still suffer from Pistanthrophobia. But I put this down to there being too few Nick Hamptons in this world.
Les Gock – Founding member of Hush and legendary advertising jingle executive
I had such a good time this weekend reading Nick’s book. Congratulations, it’s a lovely read for someone who has known some of his life but not all. Whoever said chartered accountants were boring has never met Nick Hampton. From pre-war London through Paris, New York, Australia and then finally back to France, what an interesting journey. The details and the characters that he has met along the way make for a wonderful read. I could not put it down!
Peter Rix – Manager of Marcia Hines, Jon English, event maestro and entrepreneur
Memories: the mental capacity or faculty of retaining and reviving facts, events, impressions, etcetera. Nick of Time brought back memories in spades in this great read highlighting the characters and his experiences during the glory days of the global music industry. It certainly lit up the corners of my mind. I read it in a single sitting, and I am sure that many others will find it equally as interesting. Well done, Nick, congratulations.
Bob Aird – Former music industry executive
In my roles as managing director of Mushroom Music and a board member of APRA and AMCOS I knew Nick as the affable and very competent APRA company secretary for many years, helping Brett Cottle keep the ship on course. He brought a calm confidence to what could sometimes be a combative environment when the broadcasters, record labels or concert promoters decided to arc up. Those achievements in themselves would constitute a well fulfilled career. Then I started reading this book. I had no idea of the breadth of his experiences and the more than colourful characters he worked with. If you wanted to describe a dream career you might as well start in the record business with a job in London in 1964 with Pye Records. They had a new band from Muswell Hill called The Kinks and three of the greatest songs that are still played to this day – You Really Got Me, Waterloo Sunset and Sunny Afternoon. Then onto the rollercoaster – Paris, America, England, in several quite different roles, and finally managing EMI Records in Sydney. The refreshing thing is that Nick doesn’t just do a roll call of famous artists and music executives. He comments on their character in some detail. Not all of it is sweet. When some people deserve to be called out he does it deftly and with precision. There is often comedy in those caricatures. To end gracefully, Nick and Jenny Morris did wonderful work for the Nordoff-Robbins music therapy charity. Arise, Sir Nick, we’re very fortunate you found your way to Australia and graced us for so long.
Ian James – Former MD of Mushroom Music
Find debonair in the dictionary and the description is as follows: Nick Hampton. Nick is of course so much more than just debonair. I have observed his skills in strategy, diplomacy, forward thinking, numbers, logistics and outcomes. Brains AND beauty! I will be forever grateful to him for introducing me to the world of Nordoff-Robbins music therapy, but I love him most because he cares . . . about people, places and things.
Jenny Morris OAM, MNZM – Chair APRA, Director Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia
In the simplest of terms Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia may not exist without Nick’s commitment, vision, passion and perseverance. Nick should be proud to have positively changed the lives of tens of thousands of people with disabilities and other challenges. Although there is now some physical distance between us, Nick will always remain “Mr Nordoff-Robbins”.
Simon Thorp – Chair Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia
Nick Hampton was the key to two major life-changing events for me. In 1995 after a short time dabbling in artist management, Nick had the final say (after three interviews) in appointing me to the very sought after membership position with APRA AMCOS as a junior representative. Twenty-five years later I am still there and loving it more each day. Gently and ever so persuasively he introduced me to the world of music therapy and insisted that my skill set would be crucial for the board of Nordoff-Robbins, which led to my appointment in 2008. To this day I remain in both these roles, which has ultimately changed the course of my life, and for that I am forever grateful to Nick Hampton. Thank you.
Milly Petriella – Director of Member Relations, APRA AMCOS
Why is it always those quiet accounting types who remember where the bodies were buried? Nick has written a real page-turner which gives a real overview of the music industry over seven decades. The man has a memory like an elephant!
Norm Lurie – Retired MD of Music Sales Australia
Nick Hampton – charming and honourable. A gentleman but with a steely core. Not someone to be trifled with!
Jeremy Fabinyi – Manager and retired music industry executive
My conversations with Nick have always been sparkling – full of his knowledge and charm. The memoir lets us know just how he became the charismatic and hugely effective person we all know in Australia and reveals a lot we didn’t know about the trials and fun he went through to become so respected and revered.
Iva Davies – Australian singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Icehouse founder
Nick is a larger than life personality with enthusiasms covering many differing areas. The one that captured Slim’s attention and mine was his ambition to establish a Nordoff-Robbins facility in Sydney for those people whose intellectual disabilities interfered with their access to music and its enjoyment, but who often responded to playing and hearing music. Through meeting one such young girl on our first tour of Victoria’s Gippsland, we became part of the amazing change music made in Allison. She was unable to speak and made no effort to, up until the age of about eight or nine when she heard Slim singing on the radio. Ally began listening intently and trying to follow the words. The family bought her a gramophone and Slim records. Allison began to try singing along with Slim. Over the years, from that start, music of all kinds became her outlet and love. It was her contact with the world, and from there she began to reach out to life around her.
We saw that happen over many years. Nick’s efforts brought big changes into families such as Allison’s. No wonder Slim and I became ambassadors and supporters of the Nordoff-Robbins venture!
Joy McKean – Legendary Australian country music singer-songwriter and wife of the late Slim Dusty
Read an excerpt
Take a SNEAK PEEK inside the book.
I would hate to be remembered only as a name-dropper, but the fact is my time in music, behind the scenes, brought me into contact with dozens of artists, movers and assorted shakers who I think everyone in the business has heard of. The list, in no particular order, includes Petula Clark, Tony Hatch, Jackie Trent, The Kinks, Donovan, Dick James, Elton John, Sandie Shaw, Johnny Cash, Andy Williams, Tony Bennett, Vera Lynn, Lew Grade and Clive Davis. And from my time in Sydney, Slim Dusty and Joy McKean, Ted Albert, Glenn Shorrock, Smoky Dawson, Jenny Morris, Jimmy Barnes, Iva Davies, Neil Finn and Richard Clapton, to name just a few.
I ended up spending forty years in the music business, seeing mostly the good, occasionally the bad, and sometimes the downright ugly.