Humber Business Week audience hears of the importance of work-ready skills and three-minute pop songs

Carl Leighton-Pope with (from left) Lisa Dawson of Run With It, outgoing Humber Business Week chair Kath Lavery and her successor Pat Coyle.

From “Run To You” to “Run With It”. Nineteen years almost to the day since Bryan Adams brought the KCOM Stadium to its feet with his rock anthems his manager returned to the venue – now the MKM Stadium – to talk about his near 50-year career in the music industry.

Carl Leighton-Pope’s warm-up act was Lisa Dawson, Director of educational charity Run With It, who urged the audience at the Humber Business Week launch lunch to get behind learning programmes designed to help children, young people and adult learners develop employability skills.

The lunch was back in the Humber Business Week schedule after a gap of three years and attracted nearly 250 guests to the stadium as part of the Destination Monday programme. It was a not-for-profit event with any proceeds going to Run With It. Lisa told business leaders that the charity’s work is similar to the aims of Humber Business Week.

She said: “We take children out of their everyday environment and they meet new people and they come away inspired and motivated and with a good understanding of why they are learning English and maths at school.

“We talk about those key work skills, being on time, being able to speak to people and look them in the eye, getting a good night’s sleep and looking after themselves.

“It’s learning for life and we are really proud of what we have achieved and what we can do in the coming years. We can’t do that without the business community.”

Carl explored the parallels between the corporate world and the music industry, assessing the entrepreneurial attributes of hard work, innovation, taking risks. He also admitted his academic career “came to an immediate halt” when he failed all his GCSEs.

But he was offered a job at the Marquee Club after it moved from Oxford Street to Wardour Street in 1964 and that provided the launchpad for a career as an agent and manager of some of the biggest names in rock and pop.

He also branched into other forms of entertainment, bringing the Chippendales to the UK and writing West End shows.

Carl reeled off references to his work with such household names as Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood in the sixties, Dire Straits, who he represented from the seventies, and Matt Bianco, Van Morrison and Bryan Adams in the eighties.

A pivotal moment came in 1975 when Carl was managing Sassafras on tours with Jethro Tull and, significantly, Thin Lizzy.

He said: “The music business is only three minutes long. If you don’t have three minutes you haven’t got a career. Phil Lynott wrote ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’.”

Carl still works with Adams, who was one of the earliest performers at the KCOM on 13 June 2004, Elton John having played the first gig at the new stadium in July 2003.

He also still manages Michael Buble, whose big break came when Carl persuaded Michael Parkinson to find space in his TV chat show for a singer who didn’t have a song, just a set full of cover versions.

Carl told how the singer built on his breakthrough with a second album which harnessed the essential appeal of the three-minute pop song, the same attribute which revived the career of Billy Ocean, who revisited his portfolio of chart hits.

Carl said: “I am 77, I continue to work and I am always looking for something. There’s always another bridge. Am I going to retire? No! Am I an entrepreneur? Probably, but I prefer legend!”

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