PROFILE: Barbara Charone, MBC - New release for rock PR veteran Charone. The timing couldn't be better as Barbara Charone decides to go it alone

Despite the kind of life in rock music most people would envy,

Barbara Charone says the best day of her life was when her beloved

Chelsea won the FA Cup in 1997.

'Football is a good excuse for people to share enthusiasm,' says the

Chicago-born rock PR veteran of 20 years. After two decades in the press

department of one of the world's largest record labels, WEA, Charone is

setting up her own PR agency, MBC, to bring together her interests in

music, entertainment and football.

At WEA she managed a press office of seven working on as many as 60

artists at a time. Charone wants to keep the PR side of MBC small and

selective but with a client list that has that 'wow factor'.

The starting list certainly has that. As well as Madonna, it includes

REM, Rod Stewart, UB40, Mick Hucknall, William Orbit, Eliza McCarthy,

the forthcoming musical from The Pet Shop Boys and the restaurant

Teatro, owned by ex-footballer Lee Chapman. The last two on the list

give some idea of the areas Charone wants to move into: theatre,

restaurants and football, 'so all the bits of my professional life


To those involved in the music industry in both the UK and US, Charone

is known and respected by all. 'She is alright for a Chelsea fan,' says

Dominic Mohan, the Sun showbiz editor, who admits to having found

Charone quite intimidating when they first met. 'She is one of the best

in the business and an old hand who knows everybody. She knows how

tabloids work and how to pitch a story.'

This ability is something she puts down to her previous career as a


Charone moved to London 27 years ago as a music hack. For several years

she worked as a freelance, writing for US mags such as Rolling Stone and

Cream and spent four years as deputy editor of now-defunct weekly,


In the late 1970s she quit to write Life as a Rolling Stone, an

authorisied biography of Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards. The

project took two years, including six months with the band in Paris

recording the Some Girls album and a further three living at Richards'

mansion. 'He's smart and a lot less out of it than people think,'

reveals Charone who is still in contact with the ageing Stone.

After the biography, Charone continued to freelance but, unsurprisingly

after life with Richards, soon hankered after some order in her


'I needed some routine,' she explains of her decision to take up her

friend Moira Belles' offer to do press relations at WEA.

There, her journalism background was an advantage in discovering angles

for stories. 'My time as a journalist was a big help in understanding

the media,' she explains. 'It was just as creative and always being able

to see the results in the press was very rewarding.'

In 1984 Charone found herself calling round journalists trying to whip

up interest in a new act at the Camden Palace. That artist is one of the

clients moving with Charone to her new agency. 'Madonna hasn't changed

since I first met her. Even then she was tremendously self-confident and

knew what she wanted to do. She had that much belief,' she says.

Charone admits it is sometimes stressful dealing with stars who don't

need to do press. 'I'm enthusiastic and positive, two very helpful

traits for a PRO. Enthusiasm counts for a lot - if I sound bored, what

is the journalist going to think?'

So after almost 20 years at WEA, including seven as director of

publicity, Charone has decided the time is right to go independent.

It is an idea she had never seriously considered until Belles, then MD

of WEA, left the company in September. 'Moira leaving was the

encouragement I needed, plus it's great working with friends and I

wanted to continue that.' The new agency will see Belles handling

management and consultancy and Charone press.

As a Chelsea fan she has experienced highs and lows with the club.

Dennis Wise is her favourite player - for his loyalty and commitment -

but he gets, she says, a 'bad press'.

'I want to convince footballers their PR should be done as it is for

musicians. Most will only do an interview because they are paid to,

which is archaic. They should do it because it is the right column to

appear in.'

Loyalty is a rare trait in her favourite sport but Charone inspires it

in others as the list of artists joining MBC suggests. 'Because she is

'BC' and the people in the media have always had a good relationship

with her we thought' if it ain't broke, don't fix it',' says REM manager

Bertis Downs.

Final word goes to Mohan: 'A lot of PROs I wouldn't choose to spend time

with but she is good company. I would consider her a friend. She has

never let me down and I hope I have never let her down,' he says,

sounding a little soppy for once.


1974: Deputy editor, Sounds

1983: Press officer, WEA

1993: Director of publicity, WEA

2000: Partner, MBC.

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