PROFILE: BERNARD DOHERTY, LD PUBLICITY - Doherty moves with music industry times - LD Publicity boss Bernard Doherty is still rocking after 20 years in music PR

Described by business partner Claire Singers as '6 foot 4 inches of

great fun', there's something of the entertainer about LD Publicity CEO

Bernard Doherty. A self-confessed music obsessive, he speaks with a

dulcet southern tone reminiscent of a generation of rock legends, many

of whom he has worked with, and many more of whom are competently

impersonated in his repertoire of anecdotes.



Growing up in a musical environment (his parents taught ballroom

dancing, his brother played guitar in a band), Doherty devoted hours of

his youth to hanging around clubs and record shops, building up a huge

and diverse musical knowledge. However, on leaving school with one

O-Level, he found himself, 'like everybody else in Chelmsford', working

at the Essex county town's Marconi factory.



At the age of 18, an application for a job as a DJ in Copenhagen,

advertised in Melody Maker, presented Doherty with the opportunity to

forsake a life of making nuts and bolts. Working the club circuit in

Scandinavia, he became associated with the overseas tours of a variety

of prog-rock bands: 'I was the guy who used to show them the best clubs

and places to go.'



On his return to London, he brought with him a huge address book of

managers and promoters, as well as an 'obsession' with working in the

music industry.



A spell of odd-jobbing and work as a roadie led to a job as a runner

with Island Records. It was from there that he graduated to working as a

tour publicist, travelling the world trying to break bands in different

territories.



After a stint at Hannibal Records, Doherty made the leap into agency

work when a vacancy arose with Rogers & Cowan. Enlisted to set up the

firm's music department, the move from indie label to trans-Atlantic

agency came as something of a culture shock: 'They were like Rolls

Royce. They had suits, they had expense accounts, they had an office!

People in there actually had assistants, they had cake on Fridays!'



Starting with David Bowie as a client, Paul McCartney and Tina Turner

were soon added to the roster. 'I went from doing obscure world music

and little punk bands to - my God! - world dominating bands and selling

out stadiums. It was a huge learning curve.'



The romance ended in 1988, when Shandwick bought up the agency, and

Doherty found the new owners not to his liking. 'Rogers & Cowan had been

lots of departments having a great time, but then we had to start

filling in forms if we spent ten minutes working on Tina Turner. I

couldn't deal with it. I was completely disillusioned.'



It was when he met Singers that the 'idea in his head' began to become

something more tangible. The duo teamed up with Wendy Laister, using

Doherty's profile in the music industry to expand her five-year-old

Laister-Dixon PR firm. In a period of six months following his arrival,

the agency signed Guns'n'Roses and Aerosmith, before 'Mick Jagger and

Keith Richards phoned me up and said 'We're with you Bernard'.' (The

impersonation of the frazzled rock stars is impeccable). Tina Turner

soon followed, before the firm got taken on to handle the BRIT

Awards.



BRITs executive producer Lisa Anderson first encountered Doherty in her

role as MD of RCA records in the 1980s. When she moved to manage the

BRIT Awards, LD was her first choice to handle the event: 'Bernard has

been a key player in reinventing the perception of the show. I trust his

judgement on all PR on the show, whether in fair weather or foul! If

something is going awry, Bernard is my first call!'



The rebranding of the ceremony from the 'in joke' of the slapstick early

ceremonies into the slick event of today is cited as one of his proudest

achievements, including 'nurturing' the Oasis versus Blur chart battle

of the mid-1990s.



Perhaps one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by the agency

occurred towards the end of last year, when LD undertook a mammoth

promotional tour for the Backstreet Boys' Black and Blue album,

involving a private jet, a film crew, and four continents.



The agency's roster is admirably diverse, ranging from Limp Bizkit to

Elvis. Yet Doherty does not believe it is necessary to be a fan of an

artist to publicise them: 'If you loved Italian food and worked in an

Italian restaurant and it was all you saw all day, you'd soon develop a

taste for Chinese or Thai. It's the same sort of thing with music.'



His love for his work is undeniable. It is with some degree of

embarrassment that he admits he shed a tear when Status Quo played Live

Aid, the latter a client in his Rogers & Cowan days. One would hope the

dewy eyes were not inspired by the kind of laughter that greets the Bob

Geldof impression that ensues.



HIGHLIGHTS



1983: Joins Rogers & Cowan



1985: Works on Live Aid



1989: Joins Laister-Dixon (now LD Publicity)



1991: Wins BRITs account.



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